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The PLA Policy Situation in Sweden

Leif Berglund


This article describes the origins of and changes in Swedish prior learning assessment (PLA/validering) policies since the mid-1990s. The article argues that a key event in this history, the Adult Education Initiative of 1996, was implemented in direct response to significant changes in the Swedish labor market, and that PLA, a “process of structured assessment,” then was called on as a way to recognize unacknowledged work skills. The main course for Swedish PLA has been to lift the educational levels of the low-educated unemployed, thus opening up educational paths that previously did not existed for this and other groups. But during these years, other purposes have been stressed, for example during the recession around 2008 and 2012 where PLA was lifted up as a tool to enhance labor market transitions, and in 2015 during the great migration from especially Syria, it was seen as a way of assessing and recognizing foreign acquired knowledge and skills in order to both integrate newcomers and fill vacancies in trades that lacked skills. The article shows that over the last two decades, both the focus and strength of PLA discussions and implementation in Sweden have varied. In the recent 2015 National Delegation for Validation, for example, the government renewed its interest in PLA policy as a means of making knowledge and skills visible. The question of whether this promise can be realized is taken up throughout the article.

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