PLA for Employers
Prior Learning Assessment
Turning existing knowledge learned outside of the classroom into college credit.
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a term used to describe college-level learning that has been acquired outside of the traditional classroom. These are the things you and your employees learn through just living your life: through performing a job, participating in training programs at work, serving in the military, doing volunteer or community service, and even studying through open online courses. PLA describes the formal process of evaluating and assessing this “life learning” to assign college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education.
Learn more about PLA for individuals and how PLA works in Maine.
If employees can utilize PLA to reduce the time and cost, this benefits the employer’s bottom line budget for that financial assistance, while also reducing the overall amount of time the employees will devote to their educational pursuits.
In addition, if the employer works with a college or university to have college credit awarded for internal training programs, this may provide an incentive for employees to participate and encourage employees to pursue a degree or credential they might not otherwise have considered. This type of educational benefit can be a good recruitment tool in the hiring process. An additional advantage of certifying workplace training programs is that employers can keep employees on site and reducing their time away from the workplace.
PLA can also make it more likely that the employee will complete a degree or credential. According to a study by the Center for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), adults who used PLA to earn college credit were two and a half times more likely to graduate, and completed their degrees in a shorter period of time. Learn more about this report.
For more information about employers and PLA, explore CAEL’s research on the topic:
- Provide information in the workplace about PLA. Encourage your employees to explore our PLA resources and educational benefits with your human resources staff, their managers, or directly with the college or university of their choice. Invite colleges and universities to visit the workplace to provide information through a lunch and learn event or employee meetings.
- Work to certify your internal training programs for college credit. Use the links to schools and points of contact on this site to start the process with the college or universities of your choice.
- Share success stories and celebrate employee accomplishments in the workplace to encourage others to take their next step using PLA.
- Provide financial assistance for employees to secure credits earned through PLA.
- Allow flexible scheduling for employees who need to attend a portfolio class, meet with a PLA advisor, or take a test.
Explore other resources and tools for supporting your employees learning.
Many of Maine’s colleges and universities partner with organizations to review, assess, and assign college credit to internal training programs. Learn more.
We are working with Maine colleges and Universities to compile key contacts to make it easier for you to connect with them on PLA for your internal training programs.
Employer Views on the Value of PLA
CAEL Research Brief, February 2012
American Council on Education (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service
ACE connects workplace learning with colleges and universities by helping adults gain access to academic credit for formal courses and examinations taken outside the traditional classroom. ACE has reviewed and provided academic credit recommendations for more than 35,000 courses, examinations, and certifications offered by employers, federal agencies, professional associations, apprenticeship programs, online education providers, and other organizations. Visit the Guide Online to identify courses, certifications, and exams with ACE credit recommendations .
Cianbro has worked hard to ensure that employees have access to high quality education and training both in the workplace and off-site. The Cianbro Institute worked with several educational institutions to certify internal company training for college credit and then created a collaborative process that allows employees to seamlessly transfer credits earned in the workplace and utilize them to continue on to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or an advanced degree online. The company worked with three different educational institutions in the process.
- December 2014 – Husson University & Cianbro Sign Agreement to Provide College Credit for Workplace Training
- Watch Video: https://youtu.be/lLXvQxru1lY
When your organization becomes a Next Step Maine Employer you as their employee gain access to tuition discounts and other educational benefits.