VPL: The Unfinished Story in Europe

The underlying principle of lifelong learning is that initial education is no longer enough for a lifelong career. It is more important to develop your competences throughout your life. How? By accepting that your glass is already half filled!

Personal competences can be developed in formal learning processes (classrooms, training situations). Competence-development, however, also takes place in non-formal and informal learning processes: on the job, at home, in voluntary work and through hobbies. If these personal competences can be described and compared with formal qualifications, then it should be possible to recognise them as valid and Ð even more – value them as a starting point for further development.

This valuation and validation of competences has a positive impact on individuals, organisations and sectors and at national or qualification level. It supports formative goals, focusing on personal and career-development, including summative goals, aiming at certification. In both cases we define this way of dealing with someone’s competences as Valuation and Validation of Prior Learning (VPL).

During the past three years the Leonardo-networkproject Valuation (and Validation) of Prior Learning (VPL) has researched European practices. In the period 2002-2003 the network concentrated on making an inventory of national learning cultures. From 2004 onwards the network discussed the design for a European model to cover the whole VPL-process. This discussion isn’t finished, as the implementation of VPL in Europe isn’t finished. The result of this unfinished work is presented in this book.

The aim is to show the variety of the use of VPL in the main European learning cultures. These learning cultures are: Anglo-Saxon, East- European, German-dual, Mixed, Scandinavian and South-European. By learning from each other’s culture and practices we hope to create a strong incentive for the knowledge exchange between different learning cultures and above all the structural implementation of VPL on national, regional, sector and organisation levels.