Limits to mobility: competence and qualifications in Europe

Françoise Le Deist (Work Employment and Health Research Group, Toulouse Business School, Toulouse, France)
Vidmantas Tūtlys (Centre for Vocational Education and Research, Vytautus Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Publication date: 6 April 2012



This paper aims to explore structural and systemic influences in the development of competence models and qualifications systems at sectoral and national levels across Europe, considering the influences of different socio‐economic models of skill formation on the processes of design and provision of qualifications.


The paper is based on a meta analysis of three European projects that used literature review, documentary analysis and interviews with practitioners and policy makers.


The main methodological and practical challenges posed by varieties of competence and qualifications to inter‐country comparability of qualifications are shown to be related to different socio‐economic models of skill formation.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to 13 countries and four sectors but these were carefully selected to maximise coverage of European diversity with respect to competence models, training regimes and approaches to qualifications. There is clearly a need for further research involving more countries and sectors.

Practical implications

The paper offers recommendations for improving the potential of the European Qualifications Framework to promote comparability of qualifications and hence mobility of labour. These recommendations will be of interest to policy makers and practitioners involved in using the EQF and similar instruments.


This is the first systematic attempt to explore the methodological and practical difficulties of establishing comparability between qualifications.



Le Deist, F. and Tūtlys, V. (2012), "Limits to mobility: competence and qualifications in Europe", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 36 No. 2/3, pp. 262-285.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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