Where a strategic plan can be used to determine the required human capital in business, and industry skills used as credit in such benchmarks, it could be possible to use such a system to determine normative skills gaps. This implies that there will be a need to collect and accumulate credits on a peace meal basis. Wikipedia (2010) discusses a concept called “Credit Accumulation and Transfer Schemes (CATS)”which is used by universities in the United Kingdom to monitor, record and reward “passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions.” It is also possible to equate CATS with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).
According to Adam (2000) the task of the Leiria International Seminar was to discuss workable alternatives and build consensus about Credit Accumulation and Transfer Systems. This seminar was one of the international seminars agreed to in Helsinki. The purpose of this seminar was to discuss credit accumulation and transfer systems in the context of the Bologna process and the linkages to lifelong learning. Adam suggests that the experience gained by the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) provided the framework for much of the national and international development of credit accumulation and transfer and the internationalisation of higher education.
During the same seminar, the Minister of Education, in Portugal stressed the need for more student and teacher mobility to aid European integration. Emphasis was placed on the flexible and well-structured European education systems. The minister also felt that there needed to be more harmonisation between different national educational policies.
A further point mentioned by Adam was that the European education system needs to improve its international competitiveness and the employability of its citizens. This would also lead to more competition between European systems, which would improve and sharpen individual educational provisions. The worldwide acceptance of European degrees and diplomas requires better information about their content, competencies and academic and professional objectives. Also, the quality of the awards must be established along with the relevance of the programmes.
Heath (2007) developed a theory about the “stickiness” of ideas and concepts. The author investigates the aspects that make a story stick (remembered). Credit accumulation could be one such a factor. If a person knew that company training and experience could count as credit towards a qualification, the “stickiness” of what they do, should increase. Thus, such employees would be more motivated to do well in both the training and the work based performance.
Adam also mentions that the Bologna Declaration called for the “adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees.” The aim of the seminar was to work towards the creation of a European credit system. A subsequent speaker at the seminar, Volker Gehmlich presented a vision of a global credit accumulation and transfer system that could encompass adult education, vocational and professional training, higher education and lifelong learning.
From the discussions of the European Union, the efforts of the United Kingdom in workplace and vocational accreditation, plus the South African impetus in the establishment of concepts related to RPL and OFO, the agenda for credit accumulation seem to be positive. It may very well take time, but the development of the system seems more probable than ever. The benefits for such a system are plenty. However, if the contents of learning are going to be driven and dominated by the traditional educational institution, a global bureaucratic system may very well be the only result. The system would need flexibility in terms of the contents so to accommodate credits for innovation. In addition, accredited workplace learning with proper articulation towards qualifications, may very well be considered.