Qualifications Systems

Bridges to Lifelong Learning

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In the quest for more and better lifelong learning, there is a growing awareness that qualifications systems must play a part. Some countries have started to realise that isolated developments in qualifications standards lead to uncoordinated, piecemeal systems. After reviewing the policies and practice in fifteen countries, the authors present nine broad policy responses to the lifelong learning agenda that countries have adopted and that relate directly to their national qualifications system. They also identify twenty mechanisms, or concrete linkages, between national qualifications systems and lifelong learning goals. The overall aim of this book is to provide these mechanisms as a tool for governments to use in reviewing their policy responses to lifelong learning. Evidence suggests that some mechanisms, such as those linked to credit transfer, recognition of prior learning, qualifications frameworks and stakeholder involvement, are especially powerful in promoting lifelong learning.

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The Interaction Between Stakeholders and Qualifications Systems: Identifying Mechanisms

It is important to understand how qualifications systems influence lifelong learning, so that incentives for learning are improved in – and disincentives removed from – policy responses. Chapter 3 presented quantitative data showing the impact of national systems, but also pointed to the shortfall of such evidence. In this chapter an attempt is made to overcome that shortfall and look at qualitative evidence closely. The evidence here is drawn from country background reports and published research. Examples from different countries are included (indented between double lines). If lifelong learning is to develop further in countries, the patterns of behaviour of individuals, employers and learning and qualification providers will need to change. Qualifications may play a role in bringing about that change, and this chapter analyses how by reviewing empirical evidence and the relevant theoretical literature.

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