2.5 NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK
Since the beginning of the development of the national qualification framework, started in 2009, with the TEMPUS project N° 145165-TEMPUS2008-SE-SMHES “Designing and Implementing of National Qualification Framework”, hence the higher education institutions from Republic of North Macedonia in cooperation with higher education institutions from Sweden, Belgium and Germany developed the NQF for higher education. As a result of the project the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted the first Decree of National Qualification Framework in Higher Education (Official Gazette No. 154 from 30.11.2010)
Understanding the necessity of establishing a NQF for all level of the education, in 2012, the Ministry of Education and Science drawn-up an action plan consisting of concrete measures for development of Macedonian Qualification Framework (MQF).
The first step in the process was establishing the Working Group for NQF in November 2012. The working group brought together experts from several stakeholders: Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Centre for Adult Education, Centre for Vocational Education and Training, Ministry for Information Society and Public Administration, Employment Agency of Republic of Macedonia and the Bureau for Development of Education. The activities of the working group were supported by the several projects funded by EC.
In March 2013 the working group has adopted the document The Baseline for Development of the Macedonian Qualifications Framework.
The work of this group has been supported by the expertise of international experts from the European Training Foundation (ETF) and of the National Board for Certification of Skills in France. Financially, all activities of the group have been supported with resources from the EU funded project Technical Support for the Ministry of Education and Science in Lifelong Learning (06MAC01/11/102).
In terms of legislative prerequisites, the findings of the document imply that there is need for amendment of the laws for primary education, secondary education, vocational education and training and adult education which would provide link of their provisions with the future national qualifications framework and stresses the necessity of adoption of Law on National Qualifications Framework that was adopted by the Parliament in October 2013 and amended in 2016 (Official Gazette No. 137/2013, 30/2016).
The Law defines the subject, provides definitions and gives the principles & goals of NQF. It describes the Macedonian Qualifications Framework: the standards of qualifications, the structure of MQF, the volume of the qualifications, the levels and sub-levels of qualifications, the number of credits acquired the types of qualifications, the acquiring of qualifications, the development of qualifications and the sectoral qualifications. The MQF governance covers: the National Board for MQF, the competent bodies and authorities for the coordination and development of MQF, and the sectoral commissions for qualifications. Register of MQF and the quality assurance in MQF: structure of register, input of the qualifications in the register and maintenance of the register, quality assurance in MQF and procedures for quality assurance and for improving the quality of qualifications.
For the implementation of the Law for NQF, the IPA Twining Project MK 13 IPA SO 02 15 "Further Improvement of the System for Development and Implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)" in partnership with UK, Poland and Croatia, was implemented.
EU Twinning Project “Further support to the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework”
The EU Twinning Project “Further support to the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework” (MK IPA 17 SO 01 21) started in October 2021. This project is financed by the European Union and will be implemented within 27 months. The budget of the project is worth 1.500.000,00 euros.
The Beneficiary of the Project is the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia. A Consortium of three Member States – Lithuania, France and Slovenia with the expertise of other relevant authorities is responsible for the implementation of the Project.
The overall objective of the Project is further strengthening and operationalization of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) aiming to increase the employability, mobility and social integration of workers and learners in the Republic of North Macedonia.
This twinning project is expected to support the effectiveness of the NQF with special focus on:
- Development and implementation of quality assurance (QA) process/procedures;
- Transparency and governance of skills and qualifications in a lifelong learning perspective of general, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher education;
- Improving quality and better adaptability of education and training in line with the requirements from labor market needs;
- Linking formal, non-formal and informal learning; and
- Support the validation of learning outcomes acquired in different settings.
The project consists of the following 4 components:
Component 1 – Quality assurance of education and training in a LLL perspective strengthened.
Component 2 – Support to the further implementation and enhanced capacities of the National Qualifications Framework in accordance with the QA framework.
Component 3 – Operational and administrative capacities of NQF Administration for management NQF communication and awareness raising practices improved.
Component 4 – NQF Digital register interconnection and compatibility on National and EU level improved.
Goals and Purposes of NQF
The main goals and purpose of the Macedonian Qualifications Framework are as follows:
- To clearly define learning outcomes;
- To establish a system for valorisation of different qualifications within the overall system of qualifications;
- To encourage and promote learning throughout life (lifelong learning);
- To demonstrate the clear links between different parts of the education and training system;
- To indicate the transfer and advancement (horizontally and vertically) throughout and within all types of education and training (formal, non-formal and informal);
- To enable international comparability of qualifications;
- To promote the importance of key competences for lifelong learning and professional competence;
- To ensure the mobility of participants in the process of education and training as well as inclusion in the labour market, at the national and international level;
- To create a single system for quality assurance;
- To balance the quality of service providers;
- To ensure the cooperation of all stakeholders;
- To ensure harmonisation with economic, social and cultural needs of the country and
- To be part of the developments within the European Qualifications Framework.
Structure and levels of NQF
The structure and level have been regulated in the Law on National Qualification Framework. The Macedonian Qualifications Framework is composed of:
- Levels or sub-levels of qualifications,
- Descriptions of learning levels and outcomes for each level of qualification,
- Types of qualifications and documents serving as evidence for the acquired qualification and
- Volume of the qualification
The Macedonian Qualifications Framework provides detailed overview of the qualifications, classified in eight levels I - VIII (with six sub-levels), which are compatible with the educational system of North Macedonia.
The development of the qualifications between first and fifth level is responsibility of Bureau for Development of Education, Centre for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education Centre, whereas the development of qualifications in the upper three levels is responsibility of the HEIs.
The descriptions of learning levels and outcomes are expressed through knowledge and understanding, skills and competences.
The qualifications are organized by sectors, which in addition consist of sub-sectors, areas and sub-areas which are defined by sectoral commissions.
There are 21 sectors: 01 – Geology, mining and metallurgy; 02 - Civil engineering (construction) and geodesy; 03 – Graphic works; 04 - Economy, law and trade; 05 – Electronics; 06 – Health and social protection; 07 – Agriculture, fishery and veterinary; 08 – Services; 09 – Machinery; 10 – Traffic, transport and warehousing; 11 – Textile, leather and similar products; 12 – Tourism, hospitality and catering industry; 13 – Chemistry and technology; 14 – Forestry and wood processing; 15 – Sport and recreation; 16 – Education; 17 – Humanistic sciences and arts; 18 – Natural sciences; 19 – Social sciences; 20 – Information and communication technology; 21 – Interdisciplinary areas.
In terms of the type of the qualifications, the MQF distinct two types: educational qualifications and vocational qualifications.
The volume of qualification can be given in the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) for credits in higher education, ECVET (European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training) for credits in vocational education and training and the MGECS (Macedonian General Education Credit System) for credits in primary education, general secondary education and general education subjects in vocational education and training.
Implementation and Monitoring
The following institutions are involved in the processes of implementation, monitoring and planning of the activities related to the MQF: National Board for Macedonian Qualification Framework, Sectoral commissions for qualifications, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Centre for Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education Centre, Bureau for Development of Education and Science, Macedonian HEIs.
In December 2016, the Ministry of Education and Science drawn-up an action plan with roadmap for the next steps that competent bodies should need to carry out for the process of development of the MQF.
In the last period the several activities were implemented: (1) establishment and staffing of the NQF Unit at the Ministry of Education and Science (2) establishment of the National MQF Board, (3) publication of the comprehensive Inventory of all qualifications, (4) establishment of Sectoral Qualifications Councils and (5) launching the MQF website
In addition, a Working Group for Further Development of the National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning was established in April 2014. The comprehensive EQF Referencing Report of the Macedonian Qualifications Framework and Self-Certification to the QF-EHEA, developed in 2014-2016, was adopted by the Advisory Group of the European Qualifications Framework in February 2016.
A Glossary was developed on NQF terminology. All existing qualifications are conditionally included in the MQF. Within the NQF establishment process, a catalogue of qualifications allowed for awarding through adult education, was prepared with reference to the European framework.
Compatibility with EQF
The MQF is compatible with the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area. Number of credits acquired from levels and sub-levels in the Macedonian Qualification Framework (MQF) are comparable with the levels of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and is defined in the Law on NQF.
education and training
education and training
III Study cycle
II Study cycle
Master academic studies (from 60 to 120 credits)
II Study cycle
Specialist studies (60 credits)
University studies (240 credits)
Vocational studies (240 credits)
University studies (180 credits)
Vocational studies (180 credits)
Vocational studies (from 60 to 120 credits)
Short cycle programmes within the first cycle
Post-secondary school education (specialist education and craftsmanship)
Post-secondary school education (specialist education and craftsmanship)
Post-secondary school education (from 60 to 120 credits)
Secondary school education
Four-year technical education (240 credits)
Non-formal education for acquiring a qualification or part of a qualification (level of complexity – IV, in accordance with the occupational standards)
Vocational education for occupations (three years - 180 credits)
Non-formal education for acquiring a qualification or part of a qualification (level of complexity – III, in accordance with the occupational standards)
Vocational training (up to two years - from 60 to 120 credits)
Non-formal education for acquiring a qualification or part of a qualification (level of complexity – I and II, in accordance with the occupational standards)
Primary (elementary) education
Functional literacy and numeric skills
With the adoption of the Law for the National Qualifications Framework in 2013 and the designation of an official representative, as full member of the Advisory Group of the European Qualifications Framework (AG EQF), the country had committed to reference MQF to the EQF.