In modern knowledge societies education has become a key factor not only for economic growth and prosperity but also as a vital resource for coping with the demands of a rapidly changing, globalized world.
The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) has been set up to find out more about how education is acquired, to understand how it impacts on individual biographies, and to describe and analyze the major educational processes and trajectories across the life span. Some of the questions it is designed to address are: How do competencies develop over the life course? How do competencies influence or not influence decision-making processes at various critical transitions during an educational career? In what way and to what extent are competencies influenced by learning opportunities in the family or in the peer group? How are they influenced by the structure of teaching and learning processes in Kindergarten, school, university, vocational training, and further training? Another crucial issue is to find out which competencies are decisive for attaining educational certificates, which are decisive for lifelong learning, and which are decisive for a successful individual and social life.
To answer these questions, it is necessary to assess how competencies develop not only in Kindergarten or in the general school system but also in vocational training, higher education, and after leaving the education system. To achieve theses aims, six starting cohorts of over 60,000 persons were sampled through the years 2009 to 2012. The panel participants are regularly interviewed over an extended period of time.