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Using PLA as a Workforce Development Tool. November 10, 2011 Sarah Miller, CAEL Dr. Robin Millar, CEW. Facilitated by:. Sarah Miller Public Sector Services Consultant, CAEL Dr. Robin Millar Executive Director, Centre for Education and Work. CAEL’s Intermediary Role.

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Using PLA as a Workforce Development Tool

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Using pla as a workforce development tool

Using PLA as a Workforce Development Tool

November 10, 2011

Sarah Miller, CAEL

Dr. Robin Millar, CEW

Facilitated by

Facilitated by:

Sarah Miller

Public Sector Services Consultant,


Dr. Robin Millar

Executive Director,

Centre for Education and Work

Cael s intermediary role

CAEL’s Intermediary Role

Public sector services

Public Sector Services

  • Build a stronger workforce—and a stronger economy

  • CAEL Public Sector Services builds your capacity to:

    • Identify Employer Skill Needs

    • Connect Worker Skills to Demand

    • Identify education and training gaps

  • Ensure learning leads to real job opportunities

Guiding themes of the national workforce

Guiding Themes of the National Workforce

  • Large Scale worker transitions

  • Increasing emphasis on “Middle Skill” jobs, capabilities

  • Skills have value no matter where and how they are developed

  • US DOL TEGL – Increasing Degree and Credential Attainment including Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Adult learner in focus

Adult Learner in Focus

  • In the U.S., more than 59 million people, or 30 percent of the adult population, are untouched by postsecondary education.

  • In 35 states, more than 60 percent of the population does not have an associate‘s degree or higher.

  • In 2004, adult learners made up approximately 43 percent of total enrollment at community colleges, and represented 12 percent of all postsecondary education students.

    Source: Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, “Adult Learner in Focus”, 2008.

Impact of credentials and earnings

Impact of Credentials and Earnings

Percentage of workforce by education level 1973 2018

Percentage of Workforce by Education Level 1973-2018

Source: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Anticipated jobs by education level 2018

Anticipated Jobs by Education Level 2018

Source: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Prior learning assessment

Prior Learning Assessment

  • How do you use PLA?

  • Do you have policies and practices?

  • Workers in Transition?

  • Connection to the Workforce System?

Drawing out hidden skills

Drawing Out “Hidden” Skills

  • Workers share high-value experience

  • By helping a few workers to identify transferable and creditable skills, they can help guide the rest

  • Start the process for clear articulation of skills

  • Build confidence transitioning back into the workforce

Nummi plant closure a case study of hollywood proportions

NUMMI Plant Closure: A Case Study of Hollywood Proportions

  • April 1st, 2010 – Non-staggered closure

  • 4,700 workers / $512m annual pay &benefits

  • 47 suppliers and more than 1,100 procurement suppliers in 35 CA counties

  • Estimated total impact of 50,000 jobs lost

Taking action

Taking Action

  • The Transition Intuition

    • Workers in transition are highly skilled

    • Potential to receive college credit

Pre pla support

Pre PLA support

  • Re-Packaging Workers

    • Info for employers and industry outreach

    • Existing skills sets determined

    • Barriers identified and resources provided

  • Worker Assessments

    • Transferrable skills identified – re-labeled to meet other industry sector profiles

    • Develop worker profiles

Clear challenges

Clear Challenges

  • Not just skills, but attitude and outlook weigh heavily

  • Special challenges facing mature workers

  • Workers had low view of their skills and experiences

  • Need for sensitive process and measurements to identify learning from experience

Building the portfolio

Building the Portfolio

Focus Group input sculpted the portfolio

Process gave directed opportunity for workers to document their experiences on the job

Before during after

Before, during, after

  • What do you do before you start a task?

  • What do you do during the task?

  • What do you do after the task?

Moving forward

Moving Forward….

  • Taking your skills with you when you go

  • Move from “I just did this” to “This is what I learned”

Employee guide templates

Employee Guide Templates



Experience Prompts

Self assessment guide

Self Assessment Guide

  • Blank template and steps guide the exercise

Credit vs credit

credit vs. CREDIT

  • Is this college level learning?

  • Do local colleges have policy for prior learning assessment (PLA)

  • Policy Barriers in the region

  • Potential policy change with NUMMI portfolios

Attracting a new student

Attracting a New Student

  • The business case for PLA

    • Reduced tuition costs

    • Decreased time to degree

    • Enhanced persistence

  • Connecting to the Workforce

    • Attract students who otherwise are not thinking of getting a degree

    • Using the Case Manager

What we learned

What We learned

  • Highly skilled workforce

  • Unaware of their talents

  • Self reflection critical to ID of skills

  • Both job seekers and staff need support and reinforcement

Looking toward the future

Looking Toward the Future

  • Easing the transition from long term employment to new opportunities

  • Working with regional education collaborative to change policy on PLA

  • Connect skills documented with local and regional employer needs



  • Contact Information

    Sarah Miller


    Dr. Robin Millar


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