23 SES 05 B, Labour Market and Adult Learning
Parallel Paper Session
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is to value individual learning results and work experience, to promote employability and to meet labour market demands. Educational research plays a vital role in fostering PLAR since it can provide a research-based framework for the (further) development of PLAR measures and strategies and for the evaluation of its effects and effectiveness.
Against this background the purpose of this paper is to explore and critically review policies and practices of PLAR in four countries (Canada, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland). All four countries have a long tradition of PLAR for the purpose of labour market access and non-tertiary vocational qualifications, and Canada and Norway also have a long tradition for the purpose of higher education access. But whilst in Canada, Norway, and Switzerland recruitment of high-skilled immigrants has been an integral part of labour force development for years, in Germany, it has been no earlier than in 2008 that recruitment of high skilled immigrants has been declared a national policy strategy. Thus, recognising and validating prior learning results, experimental learning and foreign qualifications are common grounds which have to be faced by all four countries.
Despite of long traditions in PLAR in all four countries, there is a massive lack of (research on) transparency of procedures, assessment criteria, regulations and effects, particularly with respect to PLAR for labour market access and non-academic qualifications (Pires 2005; Souto Otero et al. 2007). Thus, the overall aim of the paper is to identify the core problems of PLAR (which are similar across countries) and to develop a basic framework for analysing PLAR strategies as well as its effects and effectiveness across countries and educational/labour market sectors.
Since the issue is at the intersection of education research, policy, and practice as well as it is significant for both educational and labour market research, the study’s disciplinary perspective is twofold: The first perspective is a traditional educational one, following John Dewey’s (1938) ideas of experiential learning, identifying and then valuing in some way the past learning of individuals and its results. The second perspective is the politically driven search for cost-effective and efficient education and training and thus a basically economic perspective as postulated by e.g. the OECD (2010) or the Worldbank (2007).
Two basic assumptions are that
- PLAR is mainly discussed in terms of regional/national aspects, focussing on higher education access and neglecting non-tertiary (vocational) education and training;
- PLAR is much related to educational policy making (e.g. to improve immigrants’ labour market participation) but little is known from a comparative educational research perspective about its effects and about how to design coherent and evidence-based PLAR strategies across regions, sectors and countries.
Dewey, J. (1938): Experience and education. New York. Dyson, C.; Keating, J. (2005): Recognition of prior learning. Policy and practice for skills learned at work. ILO working paper No. 21. Geneva. OECD (2010): Recognising non-formal and informal learning. Outcomes, policies and practices. Paris. Pires, A.L.O. (2005): Recognition and validation of experimental learning. In: Sísifo. Educational Sciences Journal, No. 2: 5–20. Souto Otero, M.; Hawley, J.; Nevala, A.-M. (2007): European Inventory on Validation of Informal and Non-formal Learning. A final report to DGEaC of the European Commission. Brussels. Theisen, G.; Adams, D. (1990): International Comparative Education. Oxford. Watson, K. (1996): Comparative education. In: Gordon, P. (ed.): A guide to educational research. London and Portland: 360 ̶ 397. Worldbank (2007): Strategy to Revitalize Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Africa. Final Draft of the Meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Ministers Of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF II+). Addis Ababa.
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