There is no overarching national policy on VPL. Quality and qualifications Ireland established a network to provide a coherent voice and a peer support environment for practitioners, including the objective that they may shape and inform policy relating to VPL. In parallel, the Department of Education and Skills are considering the establishment of a working group to support national development of VPL.
Key strength of VPL in Ireland is that VPL practice has grown organically and so is understood as a bottom-up approach. Nevertheless, promoting a common understanding of VPL through the development of a national policy/strategy to span across education sectors and workplace learning is desired.
Therefore a key objective of the National Skill’s Strategy 2025 is to encourage people across Ireland to engage more in lifelong learning – also with regards to the challenge of working with people in employment. With a focus on active inclusion to support participation in education and training and within the labour market, there will be greater recognition of workplace learning (e.g. in company training, on-the-job training and through less formal activities such as team work) and capacity for VPL
VPL in Higher Education
The current practice orientation is towards education and training awards and certification which does not necessarily meet other broader needs.
Equity of access to higher education is one of a number of core national objectives for the higher education system in the Department of Education and Skills higher education system performance framework and part of this objective is to develop pathways to higher education, including systems for VPL.
The higher education sector has taken the lead on a number of initiatives involving the use of VPL aimed at widening participation and promoting lifelong learning. Springboard is such an initiative and is typically suited to people who have work experience but need a relatively short, maximum one year, upskilling programme to be able to return to employment in areas of economic growth. To encourage and enable more people to enter or re-enter formal education, each programme must include a statement on the use of VPL.
Validation in the Labour Market
Though the government is driving strong economic recovery, long-term unemployment continues to present significant challenges to Irish society and economy. Therefore it is important to adapt new skill adjustments that include action to encourage people across Ireland to engage more in LLL with a focus on active inclusion to support participation in education and training and within the labour market, there will be greater recognition of workplace learning.
As policy makers and education providers become increasingly aware of the need for workforce development in response to changing market forces, the private sector already reflects on the adoption of partnership approaches to curriculum development, recognising the workplace itself as a valid and valuable centre of learning. There are several good practices within the private sector of adapting VPL in order to retrain and certificate people on basis of their prior learning. And there is a growing awareness of people’s knowledge, skills and competences gained through informal and non-formal learning.
Validation in the Third Sector
The third sector is active in the field of education across all sectors, though its involvement in VPL remains difficult to evaluate. There are some initiatives that recognise the potential of VPL.
Funding of VPL
There is no single national framework with explicit ring-fenced funds for VPL in Ireland. Dedicated funding of VPL in the past has been provided through a limited number of nationally and EU-funded projects from institutional resources.
References (All accessed on 19th of June 2017)
- Cedefop (2013) European inventory on nqf 2012 – Ireland. Http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/files/nqf_developments_2012-ireland.pdf
- Cedefop (2015), European guidelines for validation of non-formal and informal learning. Available at: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4054
- Higher education authority (2015a) national plan for equity of access to higher education, 2015-2020. Available at: http://www.hea.ie/en/policy/national-access-office/national-plansequity-access-higher-education/2015-2019-access-plan
- Solas (2014) further education and training strategy: 2014 – 2019. Available at: https://www.education.ie/en/publications/policy-reports/further-education-and-trainingstrategy-2014-2019.pdf