Innovation in education

Qualifications Systems: Bridges to Lifelong Learning


Executive summary | Table of contents | How to obtain this publication 

ISBN: 9264013679
Publication 20/04/2007
Pages: 237


Qualifications Systems: Bridges to Lifelong Learning

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.

Countries are now interested in developing broad systemic approaches to qualifications. These broad national approaches and their positive consequences are examined in this book.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.

This book will take the reader into new territory in the understanding of the influence of qualifications systems on lifelong learning.

Executive summary

Since the 1970s, the evolution of the OECD economies and societies, in particular the advent of information technologies, has made lifelong learning a key goal for education and training policy. Progress in technology and international economic integration is rapidly changing the economic landscape and putting an ever greater premium on the need to innovate, improve productivity and to adjust to structural changes painlessly. In this context, the 1994 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) of 12 OECD countries provided a sobering finding: at least one-quarter of the adult population fails to reach the third of the five literacy levels, which many experts regard as the minimum level of competence needed to cope adequately with the complex demands of everyday life and work. These results have been confirmed by follow-up surveys in 22 countries/regions. A population with this level of skills can hardly be expected to adapt rapidly and respond innovatively to the ongoing structural changes. “Lifelong learning for all” is a response to this challenge. This policy goal was identified by a meeting of OECD Education Ministers in 1996 (Lifelong Learning for All, OECD, 1996) and also echoed in publications by UNESCO and the European Commission.

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Scope and Structure of the Study
Chapter 2. Policy Responses to Improve National Qualifications Systems
Chapter 3. Do the Numbers Tell a Story? Quantitative Evidence about the Impact of Qualifications Systems on Learning
Chapter 4. The Interaction between Stakeholders and Qualifications Systems: Identifying Mechanisms
Chapter 5. Putting Mechanisms to Work Supporting Policy Responses
Chapter 6. Using Mechanisms to Review Policy Responses
Annex A. Summary Reports of the Threee Thematic Groups
Annex B. Education and Training System: How They Relate to Qualifications
Annex C. List of the Fifteen Countries that Prepared a Background Report and National Co-ordinators
Annex D. Countries Participating in Thematic Groups and Co-ordination
Annex E. List of Acronyms
Annex F. Three-Letter Country Codes Used in the Tables and Figures


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