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RPL – Method of Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a platform to provide recognition to the informal learning or learning through work to get equal acceptance as the formal levels of education. It aims to appreciate prior learning irrespective of the medium of achieving it. In short, RPL is a process of assessment of an individual’s prior learning to give due importance to learning as an outcome rather than learning as process.
The project may be of particular relevance to our country where just 2 per cent of the workforce is certified as skilled, as against skilled workforce levels of 96 per cent in South Korea, 80 per cent in Japan, 75 per cent in Germany and 70 per cent in Britain. The poor skill level among India’s workforce is attributed to the dearth of formal vocational educational framework and lack of industry-ready skills. Most deemed to be outside the skilled category in India are those who have typically picked up a skill while on the job, without any formal degree to back this up.
RPL has been the mainstay of all assessments conducted under national vocational education and training systems since the late 1980s and continues to evolve as different VET systems evolve. The concept of RPL can be traced back to the earliest guilds when master craftsmen inspected the work of apprentices in order to determine their competence against the high standards demanded of the different professions of the period. This process was continued during the Industrial Revolution when the first formal apprentice programs were established and realistic workplaces created to train young men and women in the skills and knowledge required of their trade. It was first introduced into the UK by Susan Simosko, a consultant with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, who adapted it as the central element of all competency-based assessments.
Competency-based recruitment is a process of recruitment based on the ability of candidates to produce anecdotes about their professional experience which can be used as evidence that the candidate has a given competency. Candidates demonstrate competencies on the application form, and then in the interview, which in this case is known as a competency-based interview.
The process is intended to be fairer than other recruitment processes by clearly laying down the required competencies and then testing them in such a way that the recruiter has little discretion to favour one candidate over another; the process assumes high recruiter discretion is undesirable. As a result of its perceived fairness, the process is popular in public services. Competency-based recruitment is highly focused on the candidates’ story-telling abilities as an indication of competency, and disfavours other indications of a candidate’s skills and potential, such as references.
Through RPL assessment and certification, the candidates will be able to align existing competencies with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for better opportunities in higher education. Besides creating an equitable system, RPL also helps them explore different options in skilling and upskilling to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps.
By getting the workforce certified under RPL, the industry gets the dual advantage
(1) formally recognized skill levels mapped with QPs and job roles and
(2) open up different paths for workers to upskill and grow through short term training and bridge courses.
(3) RPL assesses the prior knowledge and skills of individuals and certifies them mainly in the unregulated sector. The objectives of RPL are:
(4) Align the competencies of the unregulated sectors of the country with the National Skills Qualification Framework
(5) Enhance the chances of employment of individuals and provide them with more options for higher education.
(6) Reduce the inequalities that are present due to the privileges given to some types of skills and knowledge over others.