Short presentation of the national qualification framework

The French qualifications system has 8 levels and 3 descriptors, with the exception of the first level, which corresponds to basic knowledge and has no descriptor.


The descriptors are in connection with the labour market:


  • Knowledge: the descriptor is about the progression in knowledge to carry out the professional activities of the level (processes, materials, terminology of one or several fields, theoretical knowledge).
  • Expertise: the descriptor is about the progression to carry out professional activities in relation with the level: complexity and technicity of a task, of an activity in a process; the level of mastery of the professional activities; the ability to use a range of abilities (practical and cognitive ones); expertise in the field of communication and interpersonal relationships in a professional context; the ability to transfer skills.
  • Responsibility and autonomy: the descriptor is about the progression in the following fields: work organization, response to hazard, comprehension of the complexity, understanding of the overlapping with other professional fields, enabling to organize one’s work, to correct it or to give indications to supervised staff, the participation to collective work, the level of supervision.


The descriptors show a progression to more complexity. The level of a qualification is fixed by the result of the balance between the three descriptors.


Baccalaureate is registered at the level 4 of the framework, and higher education diplomas are included in the national framework.


The national register for professional qualifications (RNCP) is the national database where qualifications are registered with their level.


Process of validation of prior learning (validation des acquis de l’expérience) is mandatory for the registration of qualifications in the RNCP.


There are 2 ways to register qualifications:


  • Ministries may create qualifications if a commission where representatives of social partners and representatives of ministries discuss the opportunity of their creation. For HE diplomas, the discussion with social partners is also compulsory (registration by law).
  • Or they are accredited by France compétences after an analysis by France compétences and assent of the commission nationale de la certification professionnelle, chaired by an independent person (registration on demand).


The qualifications are expressed in learning outcomes and are based on 3 standards:


  • Standard of activities
  • Standard of competencies
  • Standard of assessment


The compliance of the qualification with these 3 standards is systematically checked.


In order to facilitate lifelong learning, qualifications must be composed by units/competences blocks (blocs de compétences) which are: « identified part of qualifications, defined as a homogeneous and coherent set of competences contributing to carrying out a professional activity autonomously, and which can be assessed and validated » with an exception for regulated professions.


Pathways are possible between blocks of competences registered in the RNCP and qualifications registered in another national repertory with qualifications without level, also under the responsibility of France compétences.