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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Using Mechanisms to Review Policy Responses

This chapter draws on all the evidence and analysis presented in earlier chapters to discuss three tools that policy makers can use to develop qualifications systems to deliver more and better lifelong learning. The emphasis is on concrete actions and practical advice. The first tool is the use of mechanisms to review present and future policy on qualifications systems, to test their robustness and see if the benefits they promised have been delivered. Some mechanisms are more powerful than others in that they appear to have greater potential influence on policy responses to lifelong learning than others. The practical application of these special mechanisms is the second tool. The third is based on an analysis of the complexity of interactions between mechanisms and of how mechanisms can be used to support one another (and therefore the policy response) and avoid counterproductive interactions. In Section 6.1 the potential of qualification systems to influence lifelong learning positively is reviewed and the three tools are outlined. In Section 6.2 the ways mechanisms interact with one another is discussed and, in Section 6.3, two examples of problems are used to illustrate how mechanisms can be set in a hypothetical country context. Section 6.4 offers some concluding thoughts on the outcomes of the study and possible next steps.

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