New national PLAR framework will support lifelong learning and help individuals enter the workforce faster

Ottawa, May 9, 2023 – Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), today, released a national framework that will support lifelong learning, help streamline skills upgrading for Canadians and support workforce development across the country. The Canadian expertise brought together in the framework will be also shared with international partners to help bridge skills gaps and support vulnerable individuals entering the workforce. 

The Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) Reference Framework outlines the well-developed national tools, processes, and quality practices that allow people to receive recognition for what they bring from previous formal and informal training and work experience, known as Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR), Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), or Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC).  

The framework compares and analyzes these varying models, tools, processes, and practices used by colleges and institutes across Canada and identifies the key challenges to broader adoption at the national level. 

PLAR has the potential to streamline skills upgrading, reduce the training time and cost for learners, and where necessary, identify targeted training to address the knowledge and skills lacking. It can help individuals enter the workforce faster by recognizing existing skills, especially during a period marked by labour shortages and an increasing number of people transitioning to new careers.  

The report is an important development in competency-based learning and will be a useful tool in further conversations about PLAR at the national level. It also includes insights into how PLAR models might be applied internationally to strengthen education and employment outcomes around the world.  

Read the reference framework. A summary is also available. 

The reference framework was developed by the Bureau de la reconnaissance des acquis et des compétences at Cégep Marie-Victorin in partnership with Collège Boréal and with the financial support of Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). 


“Canada needs a futureproof skills plan and PLAR is an essential part of that. Recognizing skills and competencies gained from prior formal, informal, and non-formal education and work experience enriches our workforce and makes quality education more accessible for more people.” 

Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada 


About Colleges and Institutes Canada

CICan is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad

We respectfully acknowledge that CICan’s offices in Ottawa are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.


For more information:

Katrina King

Senior Digital Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Twitter: @CollegeCan