The Nordic Approach

VPL has some twenty years of history and is well established in the Nordic countries. It encompasses formal, non-formal and informal learning and thus the term validation of prior learning (VPL) is used. One of the historical reasons for this development is the tradition of strong adult education, strong labour unions and political focus on social inclusion.

Hence, the scorings for the Nordic countries in the PIAAC survey are quite high. The Nordic countries have a strong third sector and non-formal adult education is well established. Lifelong Learning is structured, easily accessible and mostly publicly funded.

Conditions for VPL

There are indications that the individuals who benefit the most from VPL on a Nordic level are people without formal qualifications from upper secondary education or VET, and immigrants. In general, VPL within the educational sector is integrated and mostly free of charge. VPL is also used more and more within different industries to enhance and quality assure skills supply.

The individual at the center of VPL

The individual is at the center of the VPL process and VPL is considered to be a learning process which promotes empowerment and social inclusion.

The systems for VPL may differ in the Nordic countries, but, in all countries, VPL is mainly used for access to and customizing of education in addition to enhancing the individuals’ opportunities in the labour market.

The need for competence development

Competent VPL practitioners are crucial for the quality and effectiveness of VPL. Knowing the needed competences of VPL practitioners and using them in an apropriate way are central issues in this project. VPL practitioner competence developement is a common Nordic challenge.

There are examples of competence descriptions in the Nordic countries that can contribute to making more comprehensive competence profiles for VPL practitioners to contribute to further quality development.

Career Management Skills (CMS) are emphasized in order to meet with the rapidly changing labor market requirements and the importance of Lifelong Guidance (LLG) is underlined. This implies the need for competence development regarding those working with guidance in VPL. As is often heard – “without my guidance counselor I wouldn’t be here!”

National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) are being developed and implemented, and new learning opportunities are emerging every day. VPL practitioners will need constant updating of their mindset about learning and the value of competences. In that context, relevant, up-to-date competence profiles and opportunities for further training will be increasingly important in the future.

The Nordic Expert Network for Validation (NVL) contributes to developments and to improving validation across boarders, as well as in each of the Nordic countries. The Expert network will host the ValiGuide from November 2016.