European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training

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European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

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European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) [Official Journal C 155 of 8.7.2009].


The Commission defines the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) as a methodological framework that can be used to describe qualifications * in terms of units of learning outcomes * with associated points *.

ECVET is a system for the accumulation and transfer of units of learning outcomes in vocational education and training in Europe. It allows attestation and recording of learning outcomes acquired in various contexts, both in other countries and through formal, informal or non-formal learning. Learning outcomes can be transferred to a person’s ‘home’ system to be counted towards the obtainment of a qualification.

The diversity of national systems that define the levels and content of qualifications is not conducive to transnational mobility of learners. ECVET would allow this situation to be remedied by facilitating mobility among learners throughout Europe.

Member States are free to adopt this recommendation and implement the system. They are asked to gradually introduce measures voluntarily, with a view to using ECVET from 2012.

ECVET should be implemented through partnerships and networks based on learning agreements (Memoranda of Understanding), which provide an appropriate framework for credit transfers. With a view to transferring credits, the principles and technical specifications for describing qualifications in terms of units of learning outcomes with associated points are set out in Annex II.

A European ECVET network of relevant stakeholders and competent institutions has been established to promote ECVET and allow Member States to exchange information and experience. From this network, the Commission has established an ECVET users’ group, which contributes to the ECVET users’ guide and the implementation of ECVET.

Complementarity with other initiatives for the recognition and transfer of skills

ECVET is one of many European initiatives that encourage learner mobility within the European Union (EU), such as EUROPASS and the European Quality Charter for Mobility.

ECVET will also complement the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) by linking vocational education and training with higher education. The ECTS was set up in 1989, and has encouraged transparency and the recognition of periods of study spent in other countries.

The aim of ECVET is to facilitate the transfer of credits for learning outcomes from one qualifications system to another. It is different from the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), which is a common reference framework. Rather than harmonising these systems, ECVET is designed to make them compatible by providing an interface between existing national provisions on the accumulation, recognition and transfer of credits.

ECVET is not concerned with mutual recognition of vocational qualifications, with respect to which the relevant directive imposes binding obligations on Member States.

European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET

A new reference tool to encourage Member States to exchange best practices in the field of vocational education and training policies was presented together with ECVET. The European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET is designed to improve quality management practices at national level within this field by introducing a set of common criteria and indicators.


The EU’s target is to make European education and training systems a benchmark for the world by 2010. As part of the Lisbon Strategy, common objectives were adopted by Member States to improve their education and training systems. The “Education and Training 2010” work programme was drawn up with this aim in view.

The ministerial declaration signed in Copenhagen in 2002, concerns the revival of cooperation in the field of vocational training. It aims, in particular, to implement the Education and Training 2010 work programme in a coordinated manner, and stresses the importance of a credit transfer system for vocational education and training. The Council conclusions of 15 November 2004 indicated the need to continue developing and establishing a European system in this field.

The results of the consultation on the ECVET blueprint held between November 2006 and March 2007 confirmed the need to set up such a system for vocational education and training.

Key terms used in the act
  • Qualification: a formal outcome of an assessment and validation process that is obtained when a competent institution determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards.
  • Unit of learning outcomes: a component of a qualification, consisting of a coherent set of knowledge, skills and competence, which can be assessed and validated.
  • Credit points or ECVET points: a numerical representation of the overall weight of learning outcomes in a qualification and of the relative weight of units in relation to the qualification.

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