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European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)

ECVET is a common methodological framework that facilitates the accumulation and transfer of credits for learning outcomes from one qualifications system to another. It aims to promote transnational mobility and access to lifelong learning. It is not intended to replace national qualification systems, but to achieve better comparability and compatibility among them. ECVET applies to all outcomes obtained by an individual from various education and training pathways that are then transferred, recognised and accumulated in view of achieving a qualification. This initiative makes it easier for European Union (EU) citizens to gain recognition of their training, skills and knowledge in another EU country than their own.


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) (OJ C 155, 8.7.2009, pp. 11-18)


The European 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 remedies this situation by facilitating mobility among learners throughout Europe.

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

ECVET is 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 promotes ECVET and allow EU countries 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 also complements 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 EU countries.

European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET

A reference tool to encourage EU countries 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 means of a set of common criteria and indicators.


* 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.

last update 22.09.2015