Lithuanian Qualifications Framework: origin, goals, organisation
Lithuania decided to develop its National Qualifications Framework prior to the adoption of the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning on 23 April 2008. The project of Lithuania’s National Qualifications Framework was developed during 2005-2007 when implementing the project ‘Development of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework’ coordinated by the Lithuanian Labour Market Training Authority and financed by European Union funds. The project was designated for the purpose of improving continuity between separate strands of education and meeting the needs of the national economy.
With reference to the European Qualifications Framework and based on the systems for vocational and higher education attainment levels validated in Lithuania, a model and concept for the National Qualifications Framework was developed in 2005-2008.
On 4 May 2010, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved the Description of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework. On 24 July 2019, the Government renewed the Description, according to the Recommendation on the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. By comparison, these two documents do not have significant differences.
In developing the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework, the main goal was to have a clear system of levels of qualification. Qualifications are categorised according to competencies, which a person requires in his/her activities. Qualifications also match the country’s economic needs and are designed as an instrument to coordinate the country’s economic, social and employment policy. The Lithuanian Qualifications Framework was necessary to set rules for the identification of qualifications and their acquisition, assessment and recognition. It also facilitates information about the content, acquisition, improvement and/or change in qualifications needed for a certain activity. The set qualifications framework enables easier workforce flow nationally and internationally. Thereby progressing from one qualification level to another, the promotion of lifelong formal, non-formal and informal learning forms and methods is achieved.
The Qualifications and Vocational Education and Training Development Centre is responsible for the development of the qualification system, e.g., it prepares and renews professional standards after reconciling them with Sectoral Professional Committees. This state institution administers the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework and is the National Coordination Point. In the management of the system of qualifications, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport is responsible for creating, organizing and implementing policy in this area. The Ministry of Economy and Innovation is responsible for creating and implementing human resource development policy. It is therefore involved in the recognition of regulated professional qualifications. Both ministries together set and approve the procedures for a professional training standards structure and the preparation and modification of professional training standards. Sectoral Professional Committees – collegial, based on cooperation and advisory institutions – coordinate qualification issues in a specific economic sector. The Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (SKVC) executes the recognition of foreign academic qualifications.
Lithuanian Qualifications Framework
According to the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework, qualifications that are established, granted and recognised in Lithuania are classified, evaluated and compared. The Lithuanian Qualifications System, including the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework and qualification planning, implementation, recognition and management, is linked to other qualifications systems in the European Union.
Identification of levels of qualifications
The Lithuanian Qualifications Framework consists of eight levels of qualifications. The levels of qualifications are arranged in a hierarchical order, with regard to the underlying competence of the qualifications and criteria defining different levels of qualifications, which are as follows:
- complexity of activities – a qualification criterion which is used to define the nature of activities and the scope of the tasks and responsibility
- autonomy of activities – a qualification criterion which is used to define activities in terms of changing organisation and subordination factors
- variability of activities – a qualification criterion which is used to define activities in terms of the changing technological and organisational environment
Every level of qualifications includes qualifications designated for the performance of activities of similar complexity, autonomy and variability.
There are two types of qualifications:
- work qualifications, the main goal of which is to prepare a person for further work
- learning qualifications, the main goal of which is to prepare a person for further learning
Lithuanian qualification levels and their acquisition
Level I-IV. Level I-IV qualifications are acquired by finishing the vocational education and training and/or general education curricula and/or by learning individually and/or through professional practice.
Level V. Level V qualifications are acquired by finishing vocational education and training programmes for individuals who already have a vocational qualification and a certain amount of work experience. Also, by finishing short-cycle study programmes and/or through the professional practice and/or by learning individually.
Level VI. Level VI qualifications are acquired by finishing first-cycle studies, professional study programmes and/or through professional experience and/or individual learning.
Level VII. Level VII qualifications are acquired by finishing second-cycle integrated studies or professional study programmes and/or through professional experience and/or individual learning.
Level VIII. Level VIII qualifications are acquired by finishing third-cycle study programmes and/or through professional experience and/or individual learning.
Description of the levels of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework
Levels of Lithuanian qualifications
Description of the qualifications level
The qualification is intended for activities consisting of one or several simple specialised actions or operations. The activities require the ability to apply basic knowledge characteristic of the activities performed.
The environment of the activities is clear, the activities are performed in line with detailed instructions, some cases require intense supervision and guidance.
The situations, actions and operations constituting the activities are regular and constantly repetitive.
The qualification covers activities consisting of actions and operations intended to solve simple problems. The activities performed require the application of the fundamental factual knowledge characteristic of the activities.
The activities performed require supervision and guidance.
The activities and operations constituting the activities are regular.
The qualification is intended for activities consisting of actions and operations in narrow areas of activities. These activities may include several or more specialised activity tasks that require the application of well-known and tested solutions. Performance of the activities involves the ability to apply knowledge characteristic of the activities performed pertaining to the facts, principles and processes of the activity area.
The activities are carried out autonomously, under the guidance of an employee of a higher qualification and subject to external performance quality control.
The activity environment may require the ability to adapt to simple contextual changes.
The qualification is intended for activities consisting of actions and operations in relatively broad areas of activity. These activities are performed by carrying out several specialised activity tasks, the solutions to which are not always tested or known. Performance of the activities involves the ability to apply factual and theoretical knowledge characteristic of a broad context related to the activity areas.
The activities are performed autonomously, assuming responsibility for the quality of the procedures and performance outcomes. With the acquisition of experience, the qualification allows for the transfer of practical skills to staff of lower qualifications as well as the supervision of their activities.
The activity environment requires the ability to adapt to developments predetermined by the change of context, which is normally foreseeable.
The qualification is intended for activities distinguished by the integrated coordination of activity tasks in different activity areas. Activities include an evaluation of the competences of lower-qualification employees and training thereof. The activities require the coordination of a comprehensive knowledge of the activity area with general knowledge in dealing with various specialised activity tasks in several different activity areas.
The employee performs the activities independently and is supervised only as regards the evaluation of the results. The activity tasks are set by an employee of a higher qualification, who frequently grants the employee performing the activities discretion as to the choice of methods and measures to complete the tasks. The employee supervises the activities of lower-qualification staff, plans and assigns activity tasks, oversees the performance of the activities, provides consulting and verifies the performance quality.
The technological and organisational requirements of the activities as well as their environment are constantly changing; the changes are often unforeseeable and may be related to new areas of activity.
The qualification is intended for complex activities distinguished by a variety of tasks and their content. Different means and methods are employed when dealing with problems in various areas of professional activities. Therefore, the performance of activities requires the application of broad theoretical knowledge based on the results of new fundamental and applied research or are necessary for the introduction of various innovations.
Activities are performed independently, selecting the methods for task completion and organising the work of the respective staff for the completion of the set tasks. Thus the qualifications in this level include the ability to plan activities with respect to the set tasks, to analyse and record the activity results and submit reports to the activity coordinators, to modify the activities based on an activity result analysis and specialist recommendations, and to carry out different project activities.
The activity environment requires the ability to adapt to constant and normally unpredictable changes predetermined by the progress of knowledge and technologies in a specific professional sphere. The qualification allows for the enhancement and extension of professional knowledge and, following the self-assessment of the activities, enables independent learning (development of cognitive competences) as required by the changing professional activities.
The qualification is intended for complex activities consisting of various interconnected tasks that may cover several related professional activities. Therefore, the performance of the activities requires expert evaluation and application of the latest knowledge of the professional activities and similar or related areas. It also requires the discovery of new facts in conducting applied research into the professional activities, and the creative application of theoretical knowledge and research results.
The activities are performed by means of the independent setting of tasks in the respective activity area and taking independent decisions aimed at activity enhancement and improvement. A particular characteristic of the activities is the supervision of other employees’ activities. Thus the qualifications of this level cover the abilities to independently carry out applied research, provide consulting in the activity area, coordinate projects aimed at the improvement of the qualifications of others as well as the introduction of innovations, and to analyse and present the activity results.
Due to the advancement of the organisation of knowledge, technology and labour in various activity areas, the activities in this level and their environment undergo intense changes. The developments are difficult to predict, and the activities consist of constantly changing combinations of tasks. Thus the changes require the ability to adopt innovative solutions based on the research results as well as the evaluation of alternative solutions and the possible social and ethical consequences of the activities.
The qualification is intended for activities of exceptional complexity, distinguished by the development of new knowledge, ideas and technologies as well as work practices, methods and processes. Consequently, the activities demand the discovery of new knowledge in the activity areas on the basis of fundamental and applied research findings and integrating knowledge in different activity areas. The activities are characterised by strategic activity objectives that may cover several different activity areas or research subjects.
The activities are strategically planned by assuming responsibility for the results and quality of other employees’ activities and independent and strategically important decision-making. The training and consulting of specialists in the respective activity area is another characteristic. Thus it is necessary to have the ability to adopt strategic decisions of public significance, to independently plan and conduct fundamental and/or applied research, to transfer the latest knowledge (share know-how) to specialists in the respective area and to coordinate scientific and applied research projects.
Intense and unpredictable changes in these activities and their environment require readiness for constant developments. This requires openness to innovation, a positive attitude towards the development of the organisation and society and the ability to address issues originally in light of their context. It also requires the ability to initiate and make changes in various areas of activity and public life.
Challenges in forming and implementing the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework
After examining the acquisition of qualifications set in the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework, there are several challenges. First, the recognition of acquired competencies and qualifications. There is no clear system in how to recognise competencies and qualifications acquired through professional experience or individual learning. Second, the preparation and renewal of professional standards. Professional standards were approved in 2010. After ten years, they have become outdated and need renewal. This procedure is taking a long time and has slowed down the renewal of vocational education and training curricula, which are based on professional standards. Third, the new level of ISCED 5 has been approved. The Law on Higher Education and Research describes it as a new short cycle in the studies system. A lot of details are set out in the law itself, but the implementation of the short cycle is late (needed legal acts have not yet been approved). This means that system for the acquisition of competencies and qualifications in Level V is not yet functioning properly.
Correlation between the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework and the European Qualifications Framework
On 23 April 2008, the European Parliament and the Council endorsed the Recommendation on the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. The key goal of this recommendation was to establish a common reference tool that would facilitate the international recognition of all levels of qualifications. Thus, member states were obliged to relate national qualifications systems to the European Qualifications Framework levels.
At a conference entitled ‘Links between the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework and the European Qualifications Framework’, which was held by the Qualifications and Vocational Education and Training Development Centre on 22 February 2011, various groups of stakeholders discussed the issue of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework and the possibilities of referencing it to the European Qualifications Framework.
In 2011, Lithuania presented a report to the Council of Europe on referencing the National Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework. The final version of the report was presented in 2012.
Based on the comparison of the Lithuanian and European qualifications frameworks, it was found that eight Lithuanian qualification levels directly corresponded to eight European qualification levels. Also, the Lithuanian qualification levels 6 to 8 corresponded to levels 1 to 3 in the Framework for Qualifications in the Area of European Higher Education.
Correlation between the frameworks is essential, because it opens up possibilities for qualification acquisition and improvement. Correlation enables the national and international mobility of studies and work. It also promotes lifelong learning and facilitates the recognition of qualifications, individual, non-formal and informal learning. It improves the transparency of foreign qualifications and compliance between labour market demand and education and teaching supply.
 Professional standard: description of all levels of qualifications needed for a specific economic sector or part of it, and competencies and requirements for the acquisition of qualifications.
 Sectoral Professional Committee: advisory body, established on the basis of cooperation, intended for the coordination of strategic issues of qualification system formation and vocational education and training in specific economic sectors according to economic function, product, services and technologies.