Successful Recognition of Prior Learning Initiative Concludes with Launch of Toolkit for the Sector

Group Photo - Launch of Toolkit
Group of people
Representatives from Donegal ETB, Limerick and Clare ETB, Kildare and Wicklow ETB and SOLAS at the launch of the Recognition or Prior Learning toolkit for the FET sector.

An initiative which enabled over two hundred people in Donegal and Limerick and Clare working in the healthcare and financial sectors to have their experience recognised, validated and certified, has concluded.

For the last two years staff from the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in both regions have been working on a project to develop an alternative accelerated route to qualifications, using Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) as the mechanism. This mechanism ensures the skills and knowledge gained through life outside of formal education and training is evaluated and validated.

For many, learning by doing is a more meaningful way to absorb and process information.  It is instinctive learning that does not perish quickly. By enabling adults to match the skills and knowledge they have gained in their workplace or through community engagement to a national qualification, the duplication of learning is avoided.

The overall ambition of the initiative was to embed RPL as a key process in both ETBs and share the outcomes of the project with the wider FET sector through a toolkit that was developed to guide the process and formally launched on 3 June. The toolkit provides a range of resources for the RPL process.

It is envisaged that the toolkit will be used by ETB personnel in the role of mentors, and a dedicated professional development opportunity has been created in conjunction with Atlantic Technological University to support capacity building across the further education and training sector.

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Donegal ETB and Limerick and Clare ETB staff receiving certificates for completing a Level 9 Special Purpose Award in RPL from Donegal ETB Deputy Chairperson Cllr Martin Harley.

Speaking about the launch of the toolkit, Donegal ETB’s Director of Further Education and Training, Ciaran O’Brien said, “The staff who developed these resources did so by combining expertise gained through successful participation in the Level 9 Special Purpose Award in RPL delivered by Letterkenny Institute of Technology, now Atlantic Technological University Donegal, with their hands-on experience of promoting and implementing the RPL process for applicants.”

The toolkit explains the RPL process and provides an outline of the roles and responsibilities of the RPL core provision staff (coordinator, mentor, assessor) who support the RPL applicant navigate the different stages of the process.

Limerick and Clare ETB’s Director of Further Education and Training Paul Patton said, “In the report, Recognition of Prior Learning in Irish Further Education and Training (FET) prepared by Deirdre Goggin, Phil O’Leary and Prof. Irene Sheridan of Cork Institute of Technology in 2017, the foreword by Andrina Wafer, QQI describes RPL as ‘a phrase as redolent with promise and expectation as it is with anxiety and frustration’.   We hope that this toolkit will go some way to supporting the FET Sector to build on the promise while alleviating any anxiety or frustration that surrounds the implementation of the RPL process.”

The project was funded as part of the Validating Competencies of Care Sector Employees (VCCSE) by SOLAS under its Innovation through Collaboration fund.

For those interested in seeking an RPL qualification, contact Siobhan Murray, RPL Coordinator, Donegal ETB by emailing