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Throughout history, people have always prepared thoroughly for strengthening and practising their skills in a profession; this has been true from the Middle Ages right through the industrial age. And this is no different in the present learning society. The prevailing systems of professional training and education do require adjustment and even innovation, because they are part of the changing socio-economic and socio-cultural landscape. Where once upon a time, simply completing a qualification was enough to gain and hold onto your place in society and in the labour market, in ever more cases this no longer holds. Nowadays, in the on-going transition to the learning society flexible, continuous and more adaptive learning is required to keep the citizen viable in today's labour market or in other words, productive citizenship. Staying on top of this development is vital for all actors: individuals, labour organizations, schools/universities, social partners and legislative and regulatory bodies are bound together closely in the social and economic structure. These ties
have always been present, but never before in history has the individual – or the citizen – got the chance to gain so much control in steering one's career through learning as is the case in 'the learning society'. It is the systematic process of Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) that offers this 'window of opportunities' with its focus on opening up learning opportunities on – metaphorically speaking - 'my' own demand. And since learning is ever more connected to social success, this focus on individualised control by means of VPL is the main feature of the changing learning
paradigm in the present context; a paradigm that is centred around individual choices and competence-based and outcomes-directed lifelong learning (Duvekot, 2006).
VPL is more and more embedded in the primary processes of learning and working. VPL will be a stimulus and 'guide' for sustainable personal development, in both processes. Moreover, it will be aiming at creating shared ownership by citizens and organisations of their competency-based development.
The mission of the 2nd VPL Biennale is to share information, knowledge, ideas and visions on the practice of VPL: the learner in the centre. The learner is understood as the volunteer, the young one, the older one, the worker, the jobseeker, the teacher/trainer, the employer, the trade unionist, etc.
The central theme of the 2nd VPL Biennale focuses on the alluring perspective of the integration of VPL in running processes and in systems of learning and working. It's time for practising VPL.
The crucial question to be answered in this respect is how to further implement VPL as an effective method in lifelong learning perspectives, being able to integrate all citizens effectively and quality-assured into lifelong learning strategies at all levels and in all environments and contexts?
This question relates to priority areas in the practice of sectors, regions, organisations and citizens, related to enhancing lifelong learning perspectives and
to fostering social and economic progress by: Integrating VPL in all learning levels and environments.
The 2nd VPL Biennale focused on sharing information, knowledge, ideas and visions on VPL and about the creative process of learning from each other's successes, problems and solutions in 'the VPL-world'.
Finally, as a kind of disclaimer the reader should be aware that the English in this publication might have been formulated in UK- or American-English, depending on the origin or orientation of the author(s).