Competence in European Policy Instruments: A Moving Target for Developing a National Qualifications Framework? Jonathan Winterton
Summary: This paper addresses competence as a European policy imperative in the adoption of competence-based vocational education and training (VET) and outcome-based higher education (HE). After tracing the development of the European Credit transfer system for VET (ECVET) and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), this paper assesses the limitations imposed by continuing differences in national competence models and inconsistencies in European policy instruments. It concludes that there is an urgent need for those developing the European taxonomy of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) to establish a framework capable of transcending sector and national specificities, as well as reconciling the worlds of education and work. The taxonomy must have an adequate theoretical underpinning and be easy to apply in practice if the “Europe 2020” objective of global competitiveness driven by high skills is to become more than a policy ambition.