Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

It is becoming increasingly necessary for people to continue learning throughout their lives. Many enroll in education programs and training, others learn by experience and study on their own. To recognize the learning individuals have and to avoid them being required to relearn something they already know, many employers and academic institutions are becoming involved in prior learning assessment.

Prior learning assessment identifies and assesses the skills and knowledge individuals have acquired. The learning may have been achieved through work, on-the-job training, independent study, military service, hobbies, and/or community and volunteer activities, as well as through formal education and training.

Benefits include an improved résumé based on skills and strengths, recognition and credit for what one knows and can do, less duplication learning, and a reduction of time and costs to complete education or training programs.

When an individual is looking for a position or career, a prior learning assessment can help by:

  • identifying the skills the person has so that both the prospective employee and employer can see how they would apply to the position or career;
  • demonstrating that the individual has the skills necessary to do a specific job;
  • supporting efforts to acquire academic or occupational credits;
  • recognizing skills and knowledge attained outside Canada.

If a person is considering returning to school, a prior learning assessment may also be helpful. It may allow one to be officially recognized for previous work and experience. Some examples of benefits are:

  • a college might grant education credits for past work experiences. This means an eligible person might complete a program in less time than is normally required, saving both time and dollars.
  • a person who has completed appropriate technical, secondary school or college programs might receive credit for some portion of an apprenticeship program.
  • some universities might consider a block transfer, which would mean, for example, accepting a two-year college diploma as an equivalent to the first two years of a degree program.
  • some schools might provide credits for a national occupational certification that a student has achieved.

If you are interested in continuing your training or education, contact the educational institution that you are interested in and ask how your current skills, and/or experience might be credited towards your further education or training. Policies about qualifications are individual to each college, university or school, so you will need to discuss your own skills and abilities with them.

Before you select an education or training program:

  • research and compare all programs of a similar nature;
  • research the career or sector and ensure the program matches your requirements;
  • contact the admissions department and discuss your background and their requirements;
  • talk to graduates of the program, if possible;
  • talk to people in the sector about the program you are considering;
  • ask the training institute or college about funding assistance/scholarship programs.