Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Explained

When it comes to gaining work related qualifications – perhaps for development of your business or career – some may find it hard to justify the cost of time away from work.

It may be that such a qualification will confirm your credentials, help to win more business, and increase your rates or salary expectations. But the time away from work needed to complete that qualification could simply be unachievable, or could not afford the time off to study.

This is where Recognition of prior Learning (RPL) will help you.

What is RPL?

RPL is a method of recognising that you have gained skills, experience, and knowledge through your work and education to date, and these are relevant to your chosen qualification.

What Prior Learning can be included? The government and national qualification boards accept that you will have built knowledge throughout your life (through the "School of Hard Knocks"), and this might have been by way of formal and informal training, as well as work (both at home and abroad). They even recognise that plenty of experience may have been gained through non-work related activities and volunteer work.

The government and national qualification boards accept that you will have built knowledge

How is prior learning recognised?

Clearly, you can’t just state you’ve got certain work experience that can be counted as prior learning. You’ll need to be assessed. This assessment will begin with an interview with a registered assessor. At this interview, you’ll be asked about your experience, training, education, hobbies, and interests.

You may also be asked to take part in a practical test or demonstration, perhaps even with a check by a third party.

How will I know if I’ve ‘passed’?

After assessment, you’ll receive a written notice telling you of the result – whether deemed competent or not. If your application for RPL isn’t successful, you’ll receive a summary of the reasons and written suggestions of the choices available to you.

Can I appeal a non-competent RPL assessment?

Yes. Usually, you would first ask the assessor to reassess you. If you’re still not satisfied, then you’ll need to make a formal appeal against the decision.

How do I apply for RPL?

You’ll need to apply for assessment. The administrator of your chosen course will give you an RPL application form. You should also prepare for your assessment by providing:

  • a CV of your experience

  • performance appraisals from the last two years

  • education and training certificates

  • testimonials from employers, customers, and clients

How does RPL really benefit me?

If, by RPL assessment, you’re deemed competent in relevant areas, then you could qualify for at least a partial qualification. If this is the case, then there will be parts of your chosen course which you don’t need to take – and that’s going to save both time and money.

Sometimes, RPL will be enough to give a full qualification.