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Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills, update.

The Clock Tower was the venue for the third meeting of the Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills. Representatives from a wide range of EU funded initiatives in education and training came together to discuss ways of promoting opportunities for mobility and recognition in the education and training sector. Through its work the Reference Group has identified opportunities to develop synergies and enhance information for learners, providers and employers.


Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills

Date: 19 November 2015

Venue: Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough St., Dublin 1


10:00 Welcome and Introduction (including Terms of Reference)

10:15 Presentations

  • EQAVET, Riga conclusions – Dr Arancha Orviedo, EQAVET
  • Qualifications Frameworks – John O’Connor, QQI
  • Erasmus+ in the Adult Education, School Education, VET and Youth fields – Fionnuala Broughan, Léargas
  • Erasmus+ and Higher Education – Neil Tynan, HEA
  • European Lifelong Learning Guidance Policy Network, Euroguidance & Ploteus – Jennifer McKenzie, NCGE
  • Recognition & Europass – Angela Lambkin/ Ann Graves, QQI

11:45 Other information updates

12:00 Questions and answers

12:15 Evaluation and feedback

12:55 Next Steps – plan for the Reference Group 2016

13:00 Lunch and close

Please click on the image to view fact sheet for each EU initiative and speaker presentations from the Groups third meeting which was held on the 19th November 2015 in the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough St., Dublin 1.

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Date: 5th November 2014

Second meeting of the Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills, 5th November 2014 meeting in the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Malbouragh St., Dublin 1.

The Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills would like to thank Mary Doyle, Deputy Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills for launching their first publication ‘Education and Skills: Working Together to bring Opportunities across Europe Home to You, at the Department of Education and Skills on Wednesday.  The Deputy Secretary General was very supportive of the group and said that The establishment of the Reference Group is extremely important, it brings together quite strategically a range of European programmes”. “The publication will help us to collaborate and connect with each other to understand what's in place to disseminate information".

Precisely the kind of work that is so necessary in Ireland in the Public Administration system’. So opened Mary Doyle, Deputy Secretary General of DES, speaking of the QQI initiative (through Europass, Qualifications Recognition, ESCO and EQF NCP), in hosting the second meeting and publication launch of the Irish Reference Group of EU Initiatives in Education and Skills.

Please click on the image to view publication, presentations and photographs from the Groups second meeting which was held on the 5th November 2014 in the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough St., Dublin 1.



Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills

A second meeting of this one stop shop will take place on the 5 November in the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough St., Dublin 1.

Europass, in collaboration with the Irish ENIC-NARIC centre Qualifications Recognition, the European Qualifications Framework National Contact Point (EQFNCP), Léargas, the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE), Euroguidance and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), launched the Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills in July 2014.

Erasmus+, the Department of Education and Skills, QQI and the European Commission supported the event.

The aim of the Irish Reference Group is to promote efficient connections between initiatives that work across education and training and a wide range of stakeholders.

  • Second Meeting of the Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills

Date:       5 November 2014

Venue:    Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough St., Dublin 1

Important Note:

There are two sessions. The afternoon session is a follow for those who attended on 3 July and who are familiar with the range of EU initiatives operating in the Education and Skill space. The limited edition Reference Group Publication will also be launched.

The morning is a repeat introductory session. If you were unable to attend on 3 July or have colleagues in your own agency/ national forum/ initiative or others who would benefit from this introductory session, please register for both.


Introductory Briefing

9:00am          Registration

9:20am          Welcome and Introduction (includes Terms of Reference)

9:25am          Policy Context

10:15am        Erasmus+ School Education, VET, Adult Education, Youth

10:45am        Coffee Break

11:05am        ’Snapshots’ of initiatives

  • European Qualifications Frameworks and ESCO
  • European Lifelong Learning Guidance Policy Network, Ploteus and Euroguidance
  • ENIC-NARIC - Facilitating the recognition of qualifications
  • Erasmus+ (School Education, VET, Adult Education, Youth)
  • Erasmus+ (Higher Education)
  • The National Europass Centre

12:00pm       Table Sessions - speed dating!

12:50pm       Conclusion

  • Draft Terms of Reference
  • Future meetings and other actions
  • Invitation to lunch and to afternoon publication launch and follow up session

1:00pm           Lunch


Follow on Briefing: Launch of publication and 2015 Priorities

2:00pm          Welcome and Update from Europe: Changes within the Commission

2:10pm          Launch of Publication

Education and Skills: Working Together to bring Opportunities across Europe Home to You

2:20pm          Priorities and Planning for 2015: Key targets

A practical update from each initiative

  • European Qualifications Frameworks and ESCO
  • European Lifelong Learning Guidance Policy Network, Ploteus and Euroguidance
  • ENIC-NARIC - Facilitating the recognition of qualifications
  • Erasmus+ (School Education, VET, Adult Education, Youth)
  • Erasmus+ (Higher Education)
  • The National Europass Centre

2:55pm          Questions from the floor to the Panel

3:05pm          Erasmus+: A focus on Funding (Léargas)

3:15pm          Creating Synergy, Extending Opportunities: group work session

3:45pm          Next Steps – plan for the Reference Group in 2015

3:50pm           Close


Terms of Reference

Background context

The education and training sector in Ireland under the leadership of the Department of Education and Skills, participates in a wide range of EU programmes of work, initiatives and working groups, in a leadership or representative capacity. Typically these activities relate  to the core mission and remit of the individual agency and service where these connect to the overarching context of creating an EU-wide Area of Skills and Qualifications and more critically, to our need to ensure coherent national responses and development.

As agencies and as individuals, we represent Ireland and implement EU initiatives and programmes nationally.

It can be challenging for stakeholders, service users and different programme teams to understand the different initiatives, to relate one to another and to see where the benefits of the work may apply in different contexts.

QQI, in collaboration with Léargas and Euroguidance at the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE), is hosting an EU Reference Group in 2014 to address some of these

issues and to allow stakeholders consider possible linkages and efficiencies recognising the context of reduced national resources.

This Reference Group for the first time will give an opportunity for common sharing of education and training actions and plans across all sectors within education and training.


The Irish Reference Group for EU Initiatives in Education and Skills will

  • Provide an opportunity to showcase a range of EU initiatives, working groups and projects in the education and training sector in a broad policy context
  • Promote understanding of each programmes unique selling point and contribution
  • Assist in the identification of potential synergies with existing stakeholder plans and promote possible efficiencies through sharing objectives, key events, outputs, directions etc.
  • Support the development of a publication by November 2014 outlining succinctly and in a common format, the purpose, aims, and intended benefits of each programme.
  • Review the contribution and methodology of the Reference Group to determine continuance and governance beyond 2014
  • Collaborate and connect with each other to disseminate information and opportunities among the relevant constituencies
  • Assist in the coordination of a national response to relevant European policy developments in education and training


It is proposed that the group would meet periodically, providing for the initial introduction of programmes of work and for general updates. Participants may be invited to comment on relevant policy developments, programme work plans, publications, or other proposals between meetings.

It is intended that the Reference Group would meet again in November 2014.


Questions and Answers

Irish EU Reference Group for Education and Skills- 3 July 2014

Question 1

Is it possible to circulate delegate list and contact details, please?


Delegate contact details circulated to all Irish EU Reference Group for Education and Skills (3 July) invitee’s prior to the reference group meeting on the 16 September.

Question 2

Are there any specific objectives within KA1 to address imbalanced mobility?

(In terms of under represented groups, regions or disciplines)


So far as the programme is constructed at present, there are no specific measures to address what might be called imbalanced mobility.

Question 3

Highlight Cert Supplement available since Dec/ Jan- not widely known.  Highlight also only from level 5 at moment but will NALA (Fergus Dolan) asks that he will network when lower Certs are available.  Are there plans in place for highlighting the availability of supplement documents?


QQI provides an e-zine to all providers offering QQI awards nationally. In X date issue of e-zine, providers were alerted to the purpose and availability of Certificate Supplements at levels 5 and 6. Level 4 Certificate Supplements are to be made available in winter 2014. Certificate Supplements at levels 1, 2 and 3 will be available following the review of awards commencing in autumn 2014.

QQI will also include information on Certificate Supplements when issuing certificates to centres.

In addition, Europass is developing a suite of promotional Fact Sheets and Posters for use in centres, including on Diploma and Certificate Supplements and will be issuing these to providers nationally in Autumn 2014. The Certificate Supplements are also promoted on our Facebook page. Europass will write to all Student Union groups and ask their support in promoting the Certificate Supplements at that time.


Question 4

Why is Europass only targeting up to 24 year olds, why not Adult learners?


Europass promotional strategy includes targets for a broad public, including employers, providers, general public, guidance counsellors and their community, and people of all ages engaged with education and training. Different initiatives support different group’s awareness.  This autumn for example, at the Cork Adult Education Fair, we ran a promotion specifically targeting adult learners to promote the Europass website and awareness of Europass; competitions at the National Ploughing Championships over 2013 and 14 also promoted awareness among a broad public.

Investing in the developing awareness of young people in schools is most likely to result in growing awareness in post school users, and in addition supports guidance counsellors who may be active in schools but also in a range of other situations.

Follow us on Facebook to stay abreast of our initiatives.

Question 5

Re the 45% who have not had access to guidance- is there an age, socio economic breakdown? Why is this figure so high?

Answer To follow

Question 6

The emphasis on funding for mobility (63%) is very pertinent.  Will this be complemented by policy / research work?


Yes under KA3. Opportunities are available for work in this area (see programme guide).

Question 7

Drop down options on Europass CV / filters; language skills.  Find it difficult.  Employers find it difficult to match up skills etc. Any improvements planned?


The EU wide Europass network constantly strive to improve the Europass service, including the usability of the CV as the core document.  Cedefop to improve interoperability of Europass with other employment initiatives (such as EURES CV database, job portals) and integrate European tools (such as ECVET, ESCO, validation) better into the Europass framework.  (Appendices 1).

The language section is perhaps better understood across Europe than in Ireland; language skills are measured on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which scores language proficiency in a counter intuitive way. In addition, we have found in work with focus groups that young people in particular are inclined to overestimate language skills based on what they know their programme aims to deliver!

We are interested in feedback on use of the CV template, including the cues and clues as this helps us plan specific work for the future. Please contact to discuss.


Question 8

There is a lack of awareness of NARIC. How do we ensure people are made aware?


Is this lack of awareness referring to individuals or other stakeholders? It appears that individuals holding foreign qualifications have a high level of awareness of the service due to increasing numbers of applications received. Anecdotally, there appears to be a particular lack of awareness amongst higher education institutions of the services provided by the Irish ENIC-NARIC. We hope to raise awareness with this stakeholder group through involvement in a number of ongoing projects with colleagues in other NARIC offices.

Colleagues in the EU reference group can raise awareness of the ENIC-NARIC office by guiding individuals / other stakeholders to the Qualifications Recognition section on  (from mid-September)

Question 9

Could you expand on the proposals to process applications?


Unfortunately, this question is not fully clear. Currently, individuals holding foreign applications can submit the application form and supporting documents by email. Comparability statements are subsequently issued in soft copy. Stakeholders presented with foreign qualifications, for example, higher education institutions and employers may seek advice via email or over the phone. It is the intention that further comparability advice will be easily accessible from  in the coming month.


Question 10

How does a person from another country have their qualifications recognised if it is not by QQI?  Is that not the role of QQI?


No. QQI hosts the Irish ENIC-NARIC centre which provides advice on the general academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland. Advice given does not represent right of access to employment, a regulated profession or education and training. The information provided may assist an employer, professional recognition body or education and training provider determine if an applicant holds the qualifications deemed necessary for employment/programme entry. However, final recognition decisions for the purposes of accessing further education and/or employment are made by education institutions, professional recognition bodies and employers.

Question 11

What is the link between Europass and INTREO?


The aim of the Reference Group (give full title) is to enable and promote synergies and links between different national initiatives. Europass is seeking actively to work in concert with INTREO and other national employment services. In particular, the Certificate and Diploma Supplements are of interest to job seekers as these official documents help employers locally and overseas to understand the qualifications a person may present with. 

The Department of Education and Skills co-fund Europass in Ireland and support its implementation and use nationally.

Question 12

Is it national policy to use Europass? (Would be good if it was)


Europass is co-funded by the European Commission under Erasmus+ and the Department of Education and Skills. The DES, through the work of QQI and HEA actively promote the use of Europass tools. Providers/institutions co-operate with implementation, particularly for example, in issuing Diploma Supplements.

Question 13

ESCO - Development of new programmes by ETBS have to date focussed on learning outcomes, will this tool assist with more employer led programmes?


See answer to Q 21 below.


Question 14

Europass- Challenge of disseminating information.  Don't hear a lot about it.  Are there plans for future promotion?


Europass agrees an annual work plan with the Commission; in 2014 we hope to consult more widely on our work plan based on input from the Reference Group. The work plan seeks to balance strategic and on-the-ground promotional activities.  Working in collaboration with NCGE, the IGC and Euroguidance we hope to embed Europass into routine career planning and management work with clients. Europass connects as appropriate with the QQI Employer Engagement Strategy and in addition, follows up with employers in regions where we know people are using Europass CV or other tools. Every provider offering programmes leading to QQI awards are contacted annually and received promotional materials for use in their institution or centre. Our website is updated routinely. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are used to maintain contact with an enquiring public.  In addition, we speak to interested groups, including a small number of schools visits, attend career fairs and events nationally, often running specific promotions to support engagement. 

We actively welcome opportunities to engage with agencies and groups to promote Europass. Please contact

Question 15

What funding is available for the graduate mobility programme?


Erasmus+ funding for graduate placements is a new activity. Funding is allocated by demand in accordance with the same rules for other funding under this programme.

Question 16

Is there a system to document what has been learned at the end of the programme?


The EU will engage in a system impact assessment at both interim and end-of-programme stage.

Question 17

Is there a way of getting recognition and validation of the programme?


Programme is fully recognised.

Question 18

AONTAS currently involved in a project for validation of informal learning?


There are many activities that are currently unconnected nationally relating to the validation of non-formal and informal learning.  A range of national initiatives have been undertaken at policy level and await decision. Practitioners nationally are forming a working group to explore and disseminate best practice, initially being led by Deirdre Goggin of Cork Institute of Technology and Josephine Finn of Maynooth University.

QQI represents Ireland on the EQF Advisory Group (EQFAG). This group seeks to promote and support the implementation of the EQF in the context of national frameworks across Europe. Promoting the validation of non-formal and informal learning is part of the EQFAG programme of work.  QQI will report on progress in Ireland in implementing the validation of non-formal and informal learning on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  QQI is represented on the Bologna Follow up Group RPL Network by Deirdre Goggin of CIT. CIT will host a Peer Learning Activity on the theme of Learning Outcomes and  VNFIL in November 2014, on behalf of the Commission and the EQFAG.

Question 19

Plans for dissemination of information?


The NAs hold regular meetings with stakeholders.

Question 20

Europass- for all INTREO offices?


Europass is seeking opportunities to collaborate and support the vital work that INTREO does nationally. Many INTREO offices connect with an initiative of the Commission promoting job mobility. Europass services are compatible with and other initiatives. In addition, the Europass Certificate and Diploma Supplements make a unique contribution to job seekers in helping them get the recognition their skills and qualifications need.

Europass also supports INTREO in attending jobs fairs nationally. Further queries to

Question 21

ESCO- link to programme development in ETB's?


This is a possible application of ESCO once fully developed as it will provide detailed occupational profiles based on knowledge skill and competence. The absence of a national source of competence based occupational profiles may increase the utility of ESCO in Ireland, however it should be remembered that education is a national competence and so ESCO will not be mandatory for any member state to use in its education system.

Question 22

EQF advisory- AONTAS dissemination, questions re Irish perspectives?


QQI represents Ireland EQF Advisory Group. It is important that QQI represents national interests on this forum and effectively disseminates the European policy development agenda among stakeholders and facilitates the presentation of national positions on the European agenda.

Question 23

Ireland is the only country with 10 levels on the framework. Is there any modularise with EQF?


Not sure what modularise means here. There are national qualifications frameworks with more than 8 levels, Ireland (10) and Scotland (12). Referencing such frameworks to EQF has not been the cause of any particular difficulty to date.

Question 24

Europass CV – are there plans to integrate ESCO codes for the interoperability/matching platforms?


No Plans at this stage.

Appendices 1- Cedefop Work Programme 2014 (snapshot) Available at:


Irish EU Reference Group for Education and Skills 3 July meeting

Koen Nomden, Head of Sector Skills & Qualifications Recognition Tools at European Commission. speaking on Policy Context. To view 3 July PowerPoint presentation Click here