Potentials and pitfalls in a partnership approach to recognition of prior learning

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This article analyses a partnership approach to ‘recognition of prior learning’ (RPL), testing its ability to facilitate reflective discourse and identity transformation among disadvantaged workers with negative learner identities. Hitherto, the transformative dimension of RPL has mainly been analysed within the context of educational institutions. Combining the theory of transformative learning with insights from the new public governance literature, we suggest that a partnership including the public employment service, employers, and unions as well has several advantages due to additional resources and a stronger embeddedness in the labour market. The claim is tested by means of an embedded case study of a Scandinavian RPL project called ‘Yggdrasil’. The Danish part of Yggdrasil applied three different partnership setups with varying compositions of staff from the collaborating organisations. The data consisted of observations of the RPL process within each setup, including a series of interviews with the Yggdrasil partners. We found that staff from unions, labour market authorities, and employers provided perspectives to the RPL process that can help workers identify themselves as having acquired competencies throughout their working lives. However, the presence of the latter two also creates an asymmetrical power relationship that can be counter-productive to the transformative dimension.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)91-104
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Recognition of prior learning
  • case study research
  • partnership
  • reflective discourse
  • transformative learning


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