Dutch Qualification Framework (NLQF)

The Dutch qualifications framework (NLQF) is a framework for the classification of all possible qualifications in the Netherlands. From basic education to a PhD doctorate. NLQF makes it possible to compare formally regulated qualifications to non-formal qualifications (often provided by private institutions).

The framework consists of eight levels and one entry level. Each of the 8 levels is defined by a set of descriptors indicating the learning outcomes relevant to qualifications at that level. The levels are based on descriptions of what someone knows and is able to do after completion of a learning process, regardless of where and, to an extent, in what timeframe this took place. These descriptions of the levels of knowledge, skills, autonomy and responsibility are referred to as learning outcomes.

The NLQF is useful for employers so that they can see what a (potential) employee knows and is able to do.
Employees and students gain more insight in their level of education and at what level they learn and perform in the work field. This self-insight can give them a boost for further career development.

The National Coordination Point (NCP) NLQF supports and informs employers, employees, students and training institutes regarding the classification of qualifications.

Classification of qualifications
Qualifications regulated by the government are generically classified into the NLQF. Owners of a non-formal (non-governmental) regulated qualification can apply to the NCP NLQF for classification of the qualification at a level of the NLQF. This classification involves two steps. First, the organization (owner of the qualification) is assessed in terms of eligibility for a classification request by means of a validity assessment. The second step is the classification of the qualification into a level of the NLQF.

The value of the NLQF for providers of education is that they can compare learning outcomes of their qualification to similar qualifications offered by other providers. A clearly defined standard with learning outcomes classified at a level of the NLQF appeals to the labour market, because is it easy to see and compare the level of obtained qualifications. The NLQF stimulates providers to think in terms of learning outcomes as a building block for qualifications and for training programs.

The levels of the NLQF are linked to the levels of the EQF: European Qualification Framework. At the moment 39 European countries are working on linking their qualifications framework to the EQF. The opportunity to compare qualification levels contributes to transparency between the education systems of the EU countries and promotes lifelong learning.

Current situation 2022
Over 166 qualification requested from private providers have been included in the framework and a substantial demand for classification is expected. Moreover the approval of the law on the NLQF by the Government is foreseen early. This will support the impact of the NLQF/EQF, in particular in the Netherlands as we do have an enormous sector of private providers of education and training, in particular for adults (Every year 1,6 million adults attend education and training in the private sector; the joint turnover of the branch is € 3.4 billion per year).