Monday, October 13, 2008

Dutch and Canadian e-portfolio efforts

The following item was posted in the Ning social network of the next ePortfolio conference to be held in Europe on October 22-24, 2008, in Maastricht, The Netherlands. The title of the blog entry was "Towards a future that works - the Committee on Labour Market Participation recommends an ePortfolio for all workers."
The Dutch Committee on Labour Market Participation has formulated a series of recommendations for getting more people into work in the Netherlands and improving the operation of the labour market. The Committee’s most significant conclusion is that the Dutch labour market is about to undergo drastic change:
  1. over the course of the coming decades, there will be more work to do but fewer people to do it;
  2. globalisation will increase the requirements regarding the level of knowledge and adaptability of the labour force. The Netherlands needs everybody – quickly! – and everybody must be constantly employable.
Among the recommandations, the fifth one is related to the ePortfolio as a mean to improve employability:

5. Improve employability. In order to increase employability, we make a number of recommendations for employers/employees, the education sector, and the benefits agencies.
  • Digital e-portfolio. Every member of the labour force will be entitled to a digital e-portfolio, i.e. an electronic inventory of their competencies, diplomas, experience, and accreditation of prior learning (APL). This will give people a better understanding of their position on the labour market and their career prospects, and of any need they have for further training.
  • Periodical talent analysis. Talent analysis and APL procedures must be introduced on a large scale, with maximum use being made of the e-portfolio. The right to a periodical analysis of one’s competencies and the right to APL assessment must be included in collective labour agreements, with mandatory arrangements for a “best-effort” obligation on the part of employees to undertake training.
It will be very interesting to observe the implementation of this plan. This policy is the first national statement that I have seen that recommends e-portfolios outside of formal education institutions, and is part of the territorial approach to ePortfolios promoted by EIfEL.

I have also been contacted by Athabasca University which is Canada's biggest (almost only) open and distance university, where they do PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Accreditation) across all programs there. Their portfolios are still primarily paper-based, although they have a virtual version of a paper-based portfolio posted on their website. Their portfolio manual (PDF) provides comprehensive guidance on building one of these PLAR portfolios.

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