Learning is more than ever important and valuable. People learn throughout their lives: formal learning at educational institutes, non-formal in training and at work and everywhere informal. People are encouraged to invest in their potential.

The changing socio-economic, socio-cultural and technological landscape is changing and moreover is the speed of this change increasing. The security of a job-for-life is changing into the security of job-hopping. Also several professions are getting obsolete and replaced with new professions, often with a higher qualification, arise. These ever faster going developments in the network society requires that the prevailing systems of professional training and education are adjusted and innovated. It is almost impossible to predict what a young person needs to learn for life, when we consider that school going children will most likely have to work until 2080 or later and new-born will live into the new century.

A flexible, continuous and more adaptive learning with the learner in the centre is required, to keep the citizen employable in today’s dynamic labour market and participative in society. Therefore it is crucial that a person makes the outcomes of all their learning are visible, understandable and useful to themselves and to others. It is the complex of personal, social, and professional competences what is needed for work and in society. These competences shows the ability of a person to act and to perform and these competences are made visible in a personal portfolio.

Valuation of Prior Learning (VPL) is a methodology and a variety of visions, approaches, practices and process-oriented instrumentation for recognizing and valuing the competences people have developed so far in their lives. It takes stock of existing competences of a person, and makes a person aware of the value of their competences in different contexts. VPL empowers a person and is becoming the basis for personalised learning, for making choices and for control of their further learning and development. VPL is essential in the change from curriculum lead, exams-based education and training towards outcome-steered, competence based personalised lifelong learning.

Education policies have changed. The concept of ‘learning society’ originated in the period of social change and economic growth in the 1960/70s. UNESCO initiated the idea of ‘permanent education’ and the idea of learning society developed in the necessity of lifelong learning, where learning is more than education and all learning (formal, non-formal and informal) has to be taken into account and learners have to take their responsibility. Research shows that at least two third of the learning of adults takes place through informal learning and that for older adults this counts for 90% of all learning. Through VPL the outcomes of all this learning is becoming visible and can be used for employability, participation and further learning and development.

Companies and organisations, the demand-side for competences, would like to see competences which offer value to their activities. In their job descriptions most desired competences are teamwork, communication , initiative, motivation, proficiency in IT, entrepreneurial acting, beside the diploma and professional companies. And reality in our network society is that 50% or of the jobs are never published, but are acquired through constantly networking and demonstrating / marketing their competences.

More than ever VPL is needed to support a person in getting the competences valued, getting more self-esteem, getting a (better) job, steer their personalised lifelong learning.