A short blog response from MIRVA partner, Dominic Orr (FiBS)

FiBS Research has been investigating how further education works, who participates in further education and the impact of further education on the economy and our societies since its inception 25 years ago. One clear conclusion is that a central problem of participation in further education by adults is often linked to participants already having gained a high-level of formal education (Dohmen, 2016; Mooney & O’Rourke, 2017). Furthermore, a current FiBS study shows younger people are more likely to participate than older people (over 50 years) and being employed in a large firm which encourages training has a positive impact on likelihood to be participating – see chart below. The issue with these characteristics is that they are given either by the person’s biography or by their current context (i.e. whether they work for a large firm or not) and are hard to change through policy interventions. At the same time, the multivariate analysis for the German Adult Education Survey found that an analysis taking into account these variables still has a low explanatory power (explains 20-25% of the variance) (unpublished). So, other factors are clearly also at work.

There has been much research on the relative influence of internal factors (perceptions, previous behaviours, expected gains) versus contextual factors (supportive environment, push and pull factors) on people’s behaviour. The ABC model from Stern at al. brings these factors together to argue that behaviour (B) is most likely when both the attitudinal variables (A) and contextual factors (C) are positive (Jackson, 2005).

FiBS is therefore most interested in working with the MIRVA consortium on how to link the technologies of open badges with empowering social hubs, which can facilitate recognition of all forms of learning (especially informal learning) in context. Until now the problem has been that any recognition of learning in context (which for instance occurs indirectly in the labour market through promotion based on years of working experience (Bessen, 2015) is not made explicit nor transparent outside of the context in which it was endorsed. Recognising learning where it occurs and making it visible to others in a clear and transparent format is what recognition hubs based on open badge technologies promise. This is why FiBS is contributing to “Making Informal Recognition Visible and Actionable” (MIRVA).


Bessen, J. (2015). Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth. Yale University Press.

Dohmen, D. (2016). Further Education for Vulnerable Groups: Barriers and the Role of Funding. In European Access Network 2016 – Dublin. Retrieved from https://www.fibs.eu/referenzen/vortraege/vortrag/further-education-for-vulnerable-groups-barriers-and-the-role-of-funding/

Jackson, T. (2005). Motivating Sustainable Consumption: A Review of the Evidence on Consumer Behaviour and Behavioral Change. Sustainable Development Research Network. https://doi.org/10.1260/0958305043026573

Mooney, R., & O’Rourke, C. (2017). Barriers to Further Education and Training with Particular Reference to Long Term Unemployed Persons and Other Vulnerable Individuals. SOLAS. Retrieved from http://www.solas.ie/SolasPdfLibrary/Barriers to FET Final June 2017.pdf

Categories: Partner news

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