How will the integrated qualifications system work?

On 15 January 2016, the Act on the Integrated Qualifications System (IQS) entered into force. When will we start using a system that will ensure the comparability of diplomas and certificates in Poland and the EU, a system that will help us determine the quality of courses and training and facilitate the confirmation of skills acquired outside of school?

Many people have been waiting for the introduction of an integrated qualifications system: employers, trade unions, trade organizations, but most of all, Polish employees - both those who travel to work in the European Union, as well as those who work in Poland, who have acquired specific skills and would like to confirm them by receiving a diploma or certificate within the framework. The latter group most often ask when the system will be fully operational and when they will be able to apply for qualifications within its framework.
The main tools of the system include the eight-level Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF), which includes the requirements concerning knowledge, skills and social competences, as well as the Integrated Qualifications Register (IQR).

The Integrated Qualifications System will start functioning when the Integrated Qualifications Register includes qualifications (diplomas, certificates) with assigned level numbers of the Polish Qualifications Framework. The diplomas and certificates will include the level number of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF), but also of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), which is a universal reference tool for all the qualifications in the EU. The Integrated Qualifications Register (IQR) will be launched in July 2016. It will cover all the qualifications incorporated into the IQS, regardless of other, already existing registers and qualification lists, as well as those that will be created in Poland in the future. This will make the information easily accessible for all interested parties.

How and when will the qualifications appear in the register?

Step one: formal qualifications

The register will include, by virtue of the law, school and higher education qualifications, e.g. matura is level four of the PQF, and the title of licencjat (bachelor) – level six.

Ministers’ decision: regulated qualifications

The minister competent for a given area will decide about the inclusion of regulated qualifications, i.e. regulations based on laws.

Examples of regulated qualifications:

  • Ministry of Finance: tax advisor and fiscal control inspector;
  • Ministry of Culture and National Heritage: qualifications of a museum worker, librarian;
  • Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy: carers in day nurseries or children’s clubs, volunteers, job consultants, career counsellors;
  • Ministry of Justice: qualifications of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, bailiffs, notaries, solicitors, receivers, sworn translators;
  • Ministry of Health: qualifications in medical professions

Before a given qualification is included in the register, it will have to be described and its quality assured. The exact level of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PRK) will also need to be determined. If a minister competent for the qualifications regulated by law assesses the socio-economic benefits of including a particular qualification into the system positively, he/she will set up an expert panel to describe this qualification and prepare it for inclusion in the register. If the minister does not take this initiative, the regulated qualification will be based on the existing rules. Regulated qualifications can be submitted to the register at any time.

New: market qualifications

Market qualifications include everything we learn outside of school and university, during courses, training offered by training companies or employers, or industries. Market qualifications will be submitted to the register by interested parties, e.g. industry representatives.

Similarly to the regulated qualifications, before such qualifications are entered in the register, they will have to be described and their quality assessed. The exact level of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF) to which they may be attributed will also need to be determined.

In the case of market qualifications, the interested entity (business entity, social or professional organization, e.g. training company, certification company, professional organization, employers' associations, trade union, public entity - also the competent minister) will submit an application to the competent minister for the inclusion of a given qualification in the IQR. Such an entity will be responsible for preparing the description of the qualification in accordance with the Act on the IQS. The Minister will then decide on including the market qualification in the system and thus entering it into the register.

By describing market qualifications, assigning them to a given level of the PQF and including them in the register, the area of non-formal education will be more organized. Today, trainings and courses are like a jar of jam without a label. The seller insists that inside there are only fruits and sugar and no preservatives, and the buyer must trust him because he does not have complete information about the contents.

The IQR will be managed by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP), while the Educational Research Institute (IBE) will support ministers in the implementation of system changes as well as institutions and organizations interested in incorporating a given qualification into the IQS.

Certificates that are not included in the register will be based on the existing rules provided there is a social need for them. However, they will not be assigned a particular PQF level.

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