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How to transform experience into qualification

How to transform work experience into a qualification

Wanganui people will soon have a rare opportunity to transform their life and work experience into a formal qualification.

Whanganui UCOL is establishing a Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) at the new Matapihi ki te Ao campus. It will be one of only two in the North Island and is part of an initiative to establish a community of Government-funded and private tertiary education providers at the campus.

Principal Suzanne Frecklington says the centre will be of great value to employers and employees, as well as to the national and local economy, by identifying and making the most of existing skills and experience in the workforce.

“We expect that the establishment of this centre will help the overall tertiary qualification statistic for the Wanganui region. Currently we have the 3rd to lowest level of tertiary qualification in New Zealand yet we know there are so many people out there who have the skills and knowledge that could be converted to qualifications,” she says.

Suzanne says CAPL provides a unique opportunity for people who have life and work experience and want a qualification, without having to take on full time study.

“The centre will work with people to identify the understanding and expertise they have gained from their work experience in many fields, including trades, administration, small business, the hospitality industry, management and factory work. Skills gained through community and volunteer work can also be evaluated. That knowledge will be assessed by an industry professional. We can then advise on the next steps that may be necessary to achieve a qualification.”

Suzanne says many people who take part in the CAPL process find that they already have part, most, or even all of the skills and knowledge they need for a qualification. She describes CAPL as a “high quality, rigorous process,” approved by the Government as part of an international effort to ensure qualifications are relevant and accessible.

In setting up the new centre, Whanganui UCOL is working with Otago Polytechnic, a world leader in the field and the first tertiary institution in New Zealand to create a CAPL. The polytechnic's centre has been operating in Dunedin for more than a decade, with enrolments burgeoning over the past five years.


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