Improving World Reference Level tool for recognition of skills across borders


The World Reference Levels (WRL) expert group representing national, regional and international organisations working in the field of skills development and recognition, met at UNESCO Headquarters on 26 to 27 November 2018.

The group discussed how to further improve the WRL tool and its function to support regional qualification frameworks and standardise the way in which learning outcomes, qualifications and credentials are described. This is so that the tool functions as a credible translation mechanism for transparency of qualifications across borders and quality assurance. 

The aim of the WRLs is to establish an accessible tool that people around the world can use to compare qualifications, credentials and other sets of outcome statements to support the recognition of skills and competencies across borders.  

During the meeting, the expert group continued to evaluate the efficiency of the world reference levels (WRL) system after it was tested in the field, and discussed the recently developed web-based application pilot tool that should simplify the process of translating or describing skills and competencies.

To make comparisons of outcomes accessible, informative and detailed, the web-based tool will offer a platform for gathering a spectrum of information about whether and how qualifications, credentials or other sets of outcome statements relate to different areas of capability.

The group also discussed recent trends and challenges related to the digitisation of credentials and certifications. These issues are further explored in the recently published UNESCO report on Digital Credentialing – Implications for the recognition of learning across borders, which examines the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies are creating for skills development and recognition globally.

In partnership with regional and global organisations, UNESCO has since 2014 worked towards developing a set of WRLs as a response to the recommendation by the Shanghai Consensus 2012: “To identify a set of world reference levels, to facilitate the international comparison and recognition of TVET qualifications.”