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Comparing Qualifications

Note this web-page has not been updated since 2011.
The Institute for Employment Research from 2004 to 2011 worked with the qualifications authorities of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland on 'comparing qualifications'. This site outlines the developments that are taking place in each of the five countries and places these in the broader context of what is happening with proposals for a European Qualifications Framework. The 'comparing qualifications' tool was designed to help people thinking of working or studying in Ireland or the UK (and tutors and careers advisers) who were interested in finding an answer to one or more of the following questions:
  • What do they call their nearest qualification to mine?
  • Will my qualification get me into college or a job?
  • Will I get some recognition for the qualifications I have?
  • What kind of job or course can I apply for with my current qualification?

Similarly, if you recruiting people from another country in Ireland and the UK? - you may be interested in the answer to these questions

  • How do I know what a qualification from another country means in terms of level?
  • Which national qualification should I compare this qualification to?
  • Who do I go to for more detailed advice about the content and level of qualifications?

The 'comparing qualifications' tool helps you explore these questions. You can click on any of the qualifications in the table to view more information about it. (Click again to hide the information box, or click the close icon in the info-box toolbar). You can also click on the names of levels and frameworks to view more information about them. It is also possible to use the 'Hide' buttons to put away columns you re not interested in (a new link will appear near the top of the page for showing that column again). We hope you find using the tool helpful. However, once you have used the tool you may have other issues about 'comparing qualifications'. First, the tool just looks at current qualifications. This raises the question of what is proposed in the future, particularly in relation to broader national developments and the development of the European Qualifications Framework. For this reason, we have created brief commentaries on the separate national developments on qualifications and in relation to the EQF: see following links for further information on qualifications developments in England; Wales; Northern Ireland; Scotland; and Ireland in relation to the European Qualifications Framework.

It may be that you are also interested in futher information about ideas behind the construction of the tool itself. The 'comparing qualifications' tool provides information that allows you to look at the ways qualifications are organised in Ireland and the UK. On one side of the table you will find the main stages of education or employment - you can find where you are in these stages. The columns show the different national qualifications frameworks. You can look at a level and/or qualification in one country and then see the nearest levels and similar kinds of qualifications that are used in the other countries. This makes it possible to draw broad comparisons between qualifications and their levels, rather than direct equivalences, for each country.
Qualifications are different in different countries. However, they are remarkably similar in what they tell someone about the person who has achieved them, for example that he or she is ready for a college/higher education course, or for a first skilled job. This is because there are some clear stages people move through in education, training and work that are common to most countries. Primary education is followed by secondary education and initial entry into employment and/or further and higher education or training. Some people move on to more skilled employment. Some choose to go into higher education and many take part in specialist training in their work place. People graduating from a higher education institution may enter employment and those who complete professional or postgraduate education may also enter employment.
A printable copy of the updated (July 2011) leaflet 'Qualifications can cross boundaries - a rough guide to comparing qualifications in the UK and Ireland' (PDF Document) produced by the five qualifications authorities is now available from here.