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National qualifications framework


2.Organisation and governance

2.5National qualifications framework

Last update: 21 February 2024

The Slovak Qualifications Framework (SQF) is a comprehensive framework that contains all qualifications awarded in the system of general education, vocational education, higher education and further education in Slovakia, which are possible to obtain through formal (school) education, non-formal (further) education and informal learning.

The most important task of SQF is to support lifelong learning and enable verification and recognition of qualifications (validation).

Since the school year 2018/2019, to ensure comprehensiveness, SQF and EQF levels are indicated in all certificates of achieved qualification and supplements to higher education diplomas. 

Preparation of the National Qualifications Framework was subject to the parallel creation of the National System of Occupations (NSO) and the National System of Qualifications (NSQ).

Source: State Institute of Vocational Education, 2017. Referencing Report of the Slovak Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework.


National Qualifications Framework

The qualification framework is defined by the qualification and the respective qualification assessment standards – qualification level descriptors based on which qualifications are assigned to individual SQF levels. The described qualification standards provide information on requirements to be met to acquire the respective qualification. It is a tool, which enables mutual understanding of knowledge, skills, and competencies to be achieved by the learner regardless of the education path to qualification they choose.

The sequence of steps for the elaboration of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) of the Slovak Republic (Národný kvalifikačný rámec) was approved by the Government Resolution no. 105/2009 of 4 February 2009. It is based on the Recommendations of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning. The Slovak Republic has decided on its implementation. 

In accordance with its principles, EQF supports the integration of formal and non-formal education and informal learning, therefore also the educational programmes of non-formal education, or more precisely educational activities, have to be integrated in the individual reference levels following the EQF descriptors. 

The development of the National Qualifications Framework of the Slovak Republic had 3 main stages: 

  1. defining the structure, number of levels and the descriptors of each level of the qualifications framework, 
  2. classifying state educational programmes, study and educational programmes of further education into the individual levels of the qualifications framework, 
  3. relating levels of the national framework to the levels of the European Qualifications Framework. 

The National Qualifications Framework of the Slovak Republic is based on 8 qualification levels, which is a structure approved by the Ministry of Education in March 2011. Descriptors within the Slovak qualifications framework, which were approved in May 2015, were subsequently reviewed.
The draft version of the qualifications framework includes a set of descriptors determining the level of knowledge, skills and competencies, which are necessary to acquire at a certain qualifications level. Descriptors of individual levels were revised by an expert group composed of parties from different areas of education, employers and professional organisations and associations.

Assessment and subsequent inclusion of educational programmes, study programmes, and educational activities and qualifications are based on the work group’s professional output and the Slovak qualifications framework descriptors. Classification into relevant levels of the Slovak qualifications framework is determined by the workgroup members, who work directly under the National coordination unit for the implementation of the European qualification framework (Národné koordinačné miesto pre implementáciu Európskeho kvalifikačného rámca). 

Since 2014, this unit has operated at the State Institute of Professional Education. The tasks of the National coordination unit include: 

  • comparing qualification levels within the framework of  the national qualifications systems with the levels of qualification frameworks shown in Annex1,
  • ensuring that the methodology used for comparison of the national qualifications levels with the European qualification framework (EQF) is transparent to make the comparison between them easier, on the one hand, and to guarantee the publishing of the respective decisions, on the other hand,
  • providing access to information and coordination for stakeholders  concerning the extent to which the national qualifications are compatible with the EQF through national qualifications systems,
  • promoting the participation of all those involved according to valid national regulations and procedures, institutions of higher education, institutions of vocational education and training, social partners, sectors and experts in the field of comparison and use of qualifications at the European level,
  • coordination of the reference process of the Slovak qualifications framework with the European qualification framework. 

SQF and NSQ tools were created to provide citizens with the possibility to understand qualifications in the national and international context more easily and to open the path to bigger flexibility in acquiring qualifications. SQF gives a comprehensive picture of the system of qualifications in Slovakia, supports lifelong learning and facilitates Slovak citizen’s education and work mobility in the EU. 


National System of Qualifications

The National Qualifications Framework (NSQ) (Národná sústava kvalifikácií) is a publicly accessible register of all complete and partial qualifications, confirmed, differed and recognised in the territory of the Slovak Republic. NSQ aims to support the interlink of formal and non-formal education, enable comparison of results of education achieved by various forms of education and learning as well as the comparison of qualification levels in the Slovak Republic and other EU countries. At the same time, it informs the general public of all nationally recognized qualifications. 


The National System of Occupations

The National System of Occupations (NSO) is an integrated information system of description of labour market standards requirements for individual jobs. It determines the requirements of professional skills and practical experience necessary for performing work activities at labour market posts. The NPO is under the authority of The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic.

The Alliance of Sectoral Boards (Aliancia sektorových rád) is responsible for creating and updating the NSO and NSQ and coordinates the process. Sectoral boards are voluntary independent professional associations of experts that ensure monitoring of the labour market needs in respective sectors of the national economy and their transfer into the system of lifelong learning.

The Alliance of Sectoral Boards was established as a system framework for creating conditions for the sustainability of sectoral board management. The Alliance:

  • participates in and coordinates the creation and updates of NSO and NSQ intending to use common professional/personal capacities to ensure synchronisation of both systems;
  • fulfils tasks in developing a common platform promoting synchronisation of the lifelong learning system with the labour market needs in the Slovak Republic, 
  • actively works to achieve sustainable economic competitiveness of the Slovak Republic and increase the standard of living of the population, primarily through setting standards of the professional knowledge, vocational skills and competencies necessary to pursue work activities, through setting qualification standards for workforce training, and through setting the conditions of verification of qualification through NSO and NSQ, 
  • ensures intersectoral coordination of activities related to monitoring of trends in the labour market and defining quantitative and qualitative requirements for the workforce in terms of its qualified training for improving employability in the labour market.