Unless the qualifications system is able to recognise and value new achievements, it will fail to support economic modernisation. Nor will it allow the socially excluded to be economically active citizens.
The report, Lifelong qualifications, published by NIACE, the national organisation for lifelong learning, argues that qualifications should be conceived as "continually-updated curriculum vitae", especially as it will be increasingly difficult to predict what skills will be needed in the future.
"National standards" also need to be redefined. Not all types of qualifications should be based on the same kind of narrow standard, especially as education is increasingly aimed at the needs of the individual.
"In the name of improving national standards we have created a system based on the importance of being identical at the very moment when the technological means to mass-produce diversity are becoming every day more available," says the report.
Lifelong qualifications: developing qualifications to support lifelong learning is published by NIACE, 21 De Montfort St, Leicester LE1 7GE.