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                            The Skills and Knowledge Profile: An Introduction

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is a process of identifying, assessing, and recognizing what a person knows and can do (CLFDB, 1999). It evaluates the skills and knowledge adults acquire through work experience, community activities, volunteer work, non-college and independent study. The Skills and Knowledge Profile (SKP) has been developed as a tool to document the learning styles and strategies of adult learners. It is the result of a two-year action research project entitled "Learning Capacities in the Community and Workplace: An Action Research Project."

The SKP is part of a trend in adult education, which recognizes and builds on people’s capacity to share their knowledge and skills. It is a generic tool that has a strong potential to fulfill the needs of various work, community and educational institutions as well as recognizing sectors where learning strategies are based largely in the cultural networks of community and workplace rather than formal education.

The SKP is a tool that helps learners to identify and value their skills and experience. Using the SKP can assist an individual in sorting out his/her skills and knowledge before embarking on writing a resume. The process helps in identifying transferable skills. The differences and distinctions that people use to order their plans and activities can be identified. It can prove useful for individuals who are hoping to find work but are not yet ready to write a resume or who have not had strong attachments to the workforce. It can be used as a personal resource assisting in application processes and job searches. When used in the work place the SKP is a way to share information, facilitate promotion and facilitate the development of work groups or teams.

The SKP can go beyond the needs of employable persons. Recording one’s skills and knowledge can help identify interests and skills and clarify a career path or direct retired persons to new hobbies or projects. The SKP has the capacity to create community skills banks or skills exchanges. It is also a useful tool for working with volunteers by helping place volunteers appropriately; match needs with abilities, and facilitate their process of being recognized for the attributes they bring with them.

Self-confidence is an important aspect of one’s ability to move forward in work or study. Many persons completing the SKP commented that the exercise of reflecting and recording one’s skills and knowledge increased their sense of self-esteem. It also allows an opportunity for the participant to collectively and critically reflects on the actual meaning of their experiences and the relationship these experiences have to the notion of knowledge and skill.

The Skills and Knowledge Profile contains sections on:

                                A) personal information
                                B) Courses and workshops — a history of classroom learning
                                C) personal informal learning — learning that takes places in daily
                                life and major events
                                D) Job Related Informal Learning — chronicles the skills and how
                                they were learned
                                E) future learning plans — how to apply skills and experience in
                                combination with training program.

To be most successful it is important that the process take place in a social interactive context with a supportive environment. It has been our experience that the manual achieves greater impact when completed with a facilitator and the accompanying Coaches Manual. It has also be our experience that facilitation amongst workers requires a familiarly with workers lives, workers history, and workers realities.

The National Literacy Secretariat (NLS), the Canadian Labour Force Development Board (CLFDB), the joint Union-Management Project (JUMP) and the New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) Network based in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto generously supported the project. It was initially a partnership of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and Advocates for Community-based Training and Education for Women (ACTEW).

We hope that by using the SKP to record their past learnings adult learners will be encouraged to continue and that educational and economic institutions will come on board to recognize the initiative and creativity that is revealed in the SKP document.

Finally, we wish to thank the many people who participated — learners, training and education providers — for their time and feedback. With their input and thoughts we have been able to produce a document that lends itself to a number of environments and uses.


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