Non-formal qualification at level 5 of the NLQF

14th December 2015

Tag list

Location / Country / Region

The Netherlands

Time frame

The programme is already offered since 2012. The linking to the NLQF took place in 2014, and the registration as HBd in 2015. There will be more followers in the coming years.

Short description

After the implementation of the Dutch National Qualifications Framework (NLQF) it showed that there is not so much interest from the employers’ side in linking non-formal qualifications to that NLQF. Employers believe that the status of the provider is more important, having tailor-made programmes. Yet it is important that some providers are willing to link their programmes to the NLQF, believing that in the long run the level, mentioned on the diploma, will be representative for the quality and the right approach.

Heering Consultancy was the first to do so, for a programme at level 5 – like the Associate degree in the Netherlands. We have  to praise this provider for this, and that is way we can see its action as a good practice, for making learning pathways more flexible (with a good quality…).

Besides that the qualification was the first to be registered as Higher Business Diploma (HBd), a new type at level 5 of the NLQF.

Actors Involved

  • National Coordination Point for the NLQF
  • The project group for the Higher Business Diploma
  • The Ministry for Education
  • The employers’ organisations
  • The NRTO (association for private institutions)
  • Employees in the sector for pay-rolling (administrative sector)

Target audiences

  • Employees working for administration offices (pay-rolling)
  • Adult learners, willing to have a job in the economic sector.

Relevant links, websites, etc.

Contact person: Christa Heering


Links with the European Framework

Like already mentioned this practice has a direct link to the EQF, for LLL. There is a need for more non-formal types of qualifications, for RPL and other instruments to make learning more flexible and effective.

Links with national / regional priorities

The strategy by the ministry of education is at the moment for the NLQF to be more accepted as an instrument for LLL, for formal and non-formal qualifications. A law is prepared, to be in use from 2016, about the obligation to mention the right level at a diploma. This means that a link to the NLQF will be more and more important.

The types for qualifications at level 5 are an interesting part of this process. Heering Consultancy has taken the lead for that, in a time frame that not everybody was convinced of the importance of such an action.

Political and Economic dimensions

The law for mentioning the level in the diploma-supplement has been a political response to the agreement about this at a European level, but also to the need to be more clear about the right level of a qualification (instead of the ‘guess’ by the provider, ‘misleading’ the employees taking such courses).


See the website of Heering Consultancy.
In short:

  • The programme is offered in a private setting
  • The programme is divided in modules, to make learning more flexible
  • There also seminars to be done, in combination with this programme



The action done by Heering Consultancy was in its context very innovative. They were the first to do it, to take this step.

The cost is 10.000 Euro, so the provider has to believe in the possibilities for using as at a ‘niche’.

Key success factors

  • Taking risks
  • Knowing ‘your market’
  • Being the first
  • Support by the NCP of the NLQF.

Contributions to LLL Policy 

The developments related to more use of the NLQF are promising. If the NLQF will fully being used in 2017, after the implementation of the relevant law and regulations, LLL can be more pushed forward. This first attempts like Heering is doing, are setting the pace for this

What could be appropriated by others?

We can promote this approach to other governments, using the experiences here.

3. Lessons Learnt

Regarding the building of a shared definition of LLL in LLL-Hub

The HBd (like the programme Heering is offering) and the Associate degree are contributing to bridging formal and non-formal education. That is helping to share good practices, and to contribute to a common approach

Regarding the key actors, their roles and activities in LLL

Heering Consultancy is active in the LLL-network, led by Leido. This mean that this kind of practices are also used for the contacts with the government – to talk about LLL, strategy and more actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *