Providing choices, not closing doors
Learning pathways should not be one-way streets. Young people should have options to change direction or even start afresh. They need to be able to move within the education system and onto employment smoothly. (Young) adult returners need to have opportunities to re-join education without barriers to access.
- Flexible and permeable education systems enable learners to move within and across education, training and employment. Flexibility means that young people can adapt their learning pathway as they go along, to suit their interests and abilities.
In systems that lack flexibility, it is difficult for young people to make transitions from one learning pathway to another. They may find that they are restricted to their original choice, even if they have realised that this choice isn’t right for them. This can be a factor leading them to drop-out.
Repetition of learning can also be demotivating for young people. Learners who are able to switch courses, but are required to start from the beginning again, can be discouraged by the need to repeat content they have already covered in their original course.
- Flexibility in the delivery and timing of learning opportunities means that young people who have other demands on their time can continue to work towards their chosen qualification, or can return to learning if they have already dropped out.
Young people facing barriers to learning or who have had to interrupt their education may benefit from an extended period to complete their studies, the possibility to attend courses on a part-time basis, or an alternative teaching method (e.g. online learning).
Flexibility is important to all learners
All young people can benefit from flexibility and permeability in education and training systems. It is important for young people who are at risk of leaving because they feel they made the wrong choice of programme. It is important for young people who have already dropped out and are looking for an opportunity to re-enter the system. Young people facing external barriers to learning (e.g. they need to work to support their families or have caring responsibilities) may also need flexibility in the way a course is delivered.
Creating flexibility across and within educational pathways
More flexible and permeable VET pathways can be achieved in a range of ways. These include breaking down programmes into units or modules to enable movement across the system, offering opportunities for credit transfer or recognition of prior learning, introducing the possibility to attend evening classes or attend courses on a part-time basis, and individualised teaching methods.