As work continues as part of the Erasmus+ Crafts 3.0 project, all partners are currently examining the national qualification systems in each partner country. In Ireland, the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) was developed as part of the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999 (http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1999/act/26/enacted/en/html). Under this Act, the Qualifications Authority was given the responsibility of developing and maintaining the Irish NFQ.
The NFQ is a system of 10 “Levels” which are based on standards of the learning outcome types identified above (knowledge, skill and competence). All quality assured assured qualifications offered by professional bodies and international awarding bodies operating in Ireland can also be recognised through these NFQ levels. Furthermore, the NFQ includes award types of different classes as part of the framework. The types of awards within an Irish context are generally divided into “major” (or “large”) awards and smaller awards. Smaller awards can be broken down into further sub-categories of awards: Minor Awards: for partial completion of the outcomes for a major award Supplemental Awards: for learning that is additional to a major award Special Purpose Awards: for relatively narrow or purpose-specific achievement.
A potentially useful representation of the 10 NFQ levels and their corresponding awards and awarding bodies is available from the diagram below (via http://www.qqi.ie):
The relevance of this for the CRAFTS project is important, as the eventual project outputs and their use could well fit within certain criteria or categories in each partner countries’ NFQ framework. The need for the project in general and all project research to date points to the need for training and support, but also a system within apprenticeship frameworks for helping support apprenticeships. but any such system would need to be clear on how it conforms with a National Qualification Framework.
For more on the CRAFTS 3.0 project (including the developed European ECVET Curriculum on Management of Apprenticeship Programs for SMEs), please see http://crafts-project.eu/