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Required abilities expressed in the EQF descriptors knowledge, skills and competencies

The process of developing EQF descriptors and the actual phrasing of these descriptions is of relevance within this point of action. These steps directly build on the analysis of work discussed above and inherit the same principles as outlined in the principles of proper EQF assignment. The process of developing EQF descriptors and transferring them into occupational profiles can follow steps such as the following[1]:

(1) Identification of work and business processes

The basis for the formulation of learning outcomes is the identification of work and business processes that can be assigned to a certain profession. The required abilities are always related to occupation-typical work and business processes.

(2) Partition of fields of activity

The occupation profile is structured into fields of activity which are based on the work and business processes identified in step 1.

(3) Definition of learning outcomes related to the fields of activity

After the partition of fields of activity, learning outcomes are determined for each field of activity. These are formulated in an outcome-oriented manner (see also below).

(4) Transferring the fields of activity and learning outcomes into the occupational profile

The re-formulated fields of activity and learning outcomes are transferred into an occupational profile/standard that sets the different partitions in the framework of the overall profession.

Step (2) on partitioning the fields of activity plays a crucial role regarding recognition of prior learning/ learning that took place in- and non-formal learning situations because it allows the assessment and recognition of a specific set of learning outcomes within an occupational profile. For an optimum model it is even desirable to structure these sets in a way that allows the assignment of selected sets to more than one profile such as partitions that refer to basic work and business process that can lead to different occupations. Nevertheless the holistic understanding of a profession has to remain and partitions of the field to activity have to be assigned to a certain occupational profile which is itself assigned to a specific NQF/EQF level.

Within this overall process of developing and transferring learning outcomes the relation to work and business processes must be ensured.

The actual phrasing of the learning outcomes (see step 3 above) follows the EQF descriptors definition in an optimum model of EQF-adaptation. This means learning outcomes[2] are described in

  • Knowledge “means the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowlegde is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual”

  • Skills “means the ability to apply knowlegde and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and insturments)”

  • Competences "means the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy”

Please find an example for these descriptors below. It is based on the qualification “master craftsperson in motor vehicle mechanics” adapted for Austria[3]:





Unit 1: Inspection of a motor vehicle and its systems

He/she is able to inspect the electrical system of a motor vehicle ( and lorries) and trailer.

He/she has knowledge in the following fields:

  • Circuit diagrams and repair instructions
  • Diagnostic and measurement devices
  • Regulations on the inspection of electrical and electronic systems
  • etc.


He/she is able to …

  • read and apply circuit diagrams and repair instructions
  • correctly connect and use measurement and diagnostic devices
  • correctly assess and apply measurement results
  • etc.

He/she acts independently and on his/her own responsibility or has ultimate responsibility if he/she delegates this work to a team he/she heads or to employees.






based on Hensge, K., Lorig, B. & Schreiber, D. (2009). Kompetenzstandards in der Berufsausbildung – Abschlussbericht.

[2] see Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council from 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualification Framework for lifelong learning, Annex I.

[3] example taken from the results of the ZOOM project, further examples for Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece and Slovenia are available from this project and on the website as well

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