National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF)

The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) is a competency-based framework that organizes all qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude. These levels, graded from one to ten, are defined in terms of learning outcomes which the learner must possess regardless of whether they are obtained through formal, non-formal or informal learning. NSQF in India was notified on 27th December 2013. All other frameworks, including the NVEQF (National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework) released by the Ministry of HRD, stand superseded by the NSQF.

Under NSQF, the learner can acquire the certification for competency needed at any level through formal, non-formal or informal learning. In that sense, the NSQF is a quality assurance framework. Presently, more than 100 countries have, or are in the process of developing national qualification frameworks.

The NSQF is anchored at the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) and is being implemented through the National Skills Qualifications Committee (NSQC) which comprises of all key stakeholders. The NSQC's functions amongst others include approving NOSs/QPs, approving accreditation norms, prescribing guidelines to address the needs of disadvantages sections, reviewing inter-agency disputes and alignment of NSQF with international qualification frameworks.

Specific outcomes expected from implementation of NSQF are

Mobility between vocational and general education by alignment of degrees with NSQF
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), allowing transition from non-formal to organized job market
Standardized, consistent, nationally acceptable outcomes of training across the country through a national quality assurance framework
Global mobility of skilled workforce from India, through international equivalence of NSQF
Mapping of progression pathways within sectors and cross-sector ally
Approval of NOS/QPs as national standards for skill training

National Occupational Standards

The National Occupational Standards (NOS) specify the standard of performance an individual must achieve when carrying out a function in the workplace, together with the knowledge and understanding they need to meet a standard consistently.

Each NOS defines one key function in a job role. Each NOS must be a concise and readable document, usually consisting of no more than five or six pages (some are only one or two). In their essential form, NOS describe functions, standards of performance and knowledge / understanding.

The NOS are laid down by employers (through their SSCs). A Qualification Pack (QP) is a set of NOS aligned to a job role. A QP is available for every job role in each industry sector. These drive both the creation of curriculum and assessments. Thus, the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) theoretically makes it possible to drive competency based training for every job role in industry. It is possible for all current vocational courses, like MES, ITI Courses, or similar vocational courses in schools, colleges and polytechnics, to be aligned to job roles at specific NSQF Levels. An ITI Course in Plumbing would say they are training for plumbers at NSQF Level 3. Similarly, a polytechnic, training in fashion design, may say it is training for NSQF Level 5 for Garment Cutters.

NOSs – National Occupational Standards (NOSs) specify the standard of performance, knowledge and understanding when carrying out a particular activity in the workplace. Each NOS defines one key function in a job role. Example: For a Sales Associate, one of the NOS would be to 'To help customers choose right products'

QPs – A set of NOSs, aligned to a job role, called Qualification Packs (QPs), would be available for every job role in each industry sector. These drive both the creation of curriculum, and assessments. These job roles would be at various proficiency levels, and aligned to the NSQF. Example would be Qualification Pack of a Sales Associate