Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): an Initiative to Recognize the Skills of Young People

Initial vocational education and training
Swarnima Shrestha15.07.2022
People can learn through different mediums and different activities of everyday life. From childhood to adulthood, learning is a lifelong process which does not always happen in a formal way as people mainly learn through experiences. Many young people in Nepal gain experience by working in different occupations, and many take on their family’s occupations. Despite working for many years and gaining skills, people end up with no certification or proof of what they have done. Because of this, they do not get paid up to par which then hinders their professional growth.

July 15 is celebrated as World Youth Skills Day to celebrate the importance of skills in youth for employment and entrepreneurship. Since then, World Youth Skills Day has provided an opportunity for young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, firms, employers’ and workers’ organizations, policy-makers and development partners. In Nepal, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment has been initiated by Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT)/National Skill Testing Board (NSTB) with technical assistance from Nepal Vocational Qualifications System Project (NVQS-P) and financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). RPL assessment approach is an integral instrument in National Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS).

Internationally recognized

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment is an approach that recognizes learning acquired outside the formal education system. This approach recognizes that learning can be informal which can occur anywhere and anytime and can be credited through skill testing or assessment.  RPL is an internationally recognized approach for skill testing and can be defined as a process of assessing and certifying an individual’s previous learning, which has been gained through formal or informal means. Besides Nepal, this assessment process is used in various other countries such as Australia, England, Malaysia, Canada, France, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etc.

This approach can greatly benefit youths working in the informal sector as well as returnee migrants as it helps them get the recognition for skills obtained through experiential learning even without any formal training or education. Through the RPL approach of skill assessment, youths can gain recognition for skills obtained through experiential learning which shortens the period of study as self-learning will be accredited which in turn increases their self-esteem.

Prakash Khatri of Beni, Myagdi

“With no skills and training, I worked in the construction sector in Malaysia for six years. Even after working for so long, I do not have a certificate with me. In a situation like this, RPL is a great opportunity for me. If I get certified with the help of this approach, I will be able to get a job in the country easily.”

Dipak Joshi of Kailali

“Although I have a training and work experience in the plumbing sector, I do not have proper certificates. Because of this, I am compelled to work for a meager salary. This kind of certification that proves our work experience is a big opportunity for us to get well-paying jobs. The youths will not have to leave the country to earn more.”

RPL can be a transformative tool to recognize the skills of youths and help them earn as per their competency. It can help skilled youths gain recognized certificates as per their skills and knowledge, thus, helping them earn better and step up the professional ladder.

Initial vocational education and training
Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS)
Youths entering the labour market in Nepal are compelled to remain unemployed or underemployed and work in low-pay jobs due to a lack of skills, and lack of certification and recognition of the skills they have. To provide wider opportunities and to enable Nepali youth without formal vocational training and education, and those who have gained skills through work experience to enter the labour market with recognized certificates for better employability and career path, the Government of Nepal (GoN) has initiated a National Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS) with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to be implemented.