The first meeting of the National Forum on Guidance 2016 was held on Wednesday 25th of May 2016, The Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills. With recent developments in the programme for government, the National Skills Strategy 2025 and Call for Consultation process on the Statement of StrategyJames Eustace, SOLAS, Mary Liz Trant, SOLAS, Phil O Flaherty, DES, Jennifer McKenzie, NCGE and Conor Minogue, IBEC 2016-2018, NCGE felt it was timely for members of the National Forum on Guidance to look at the Opportunities for Guidance in the Skills Agenda. Forum members appeared to agree with a strong attendance from all invited organisations at this meeting. Representatives from Eurodesk, EPALE, Get Youth into IT (GYIT) and Euroguidance attended the meeting to meet with Forum members and provide updates on their projects.

The focus of the National Forum on Guidance is to bring together practitioners, stakeholders and policy makers involved in guidance, to discuss issues of relevance to and for guidance and   subsequently support co-operation and collaboration of the various providers across the lifelong guidance spectrum. Opening the Forum meeting, Jennifer McKenzie, Director of NCGE, referred to the feedback received from the survey undertaken at the closing meeting of 2015. To this regard the survey has highlighted the opportunity for networking is valuable yet the purpose of the Forum needs to be clear. The discussion questions for this Forum are very clearly designed so that stakeholders can direct their questions and feedback back to invited speakers from IBEC, DES and SOLAS.

Conor Minogue, Senior Education Executive with IBEC addressed the Forum and highlighted the changing world of work. The question of how we prepare people for this uncertainty and change is pertinent. Given the complexity and changing nature of enterprise, occupations and the skills
required, career guidance and careers information, for school goers and adult learners is essential for good course and career choices for individuals. Conor outlined IBEC’s key priorities in relation to
• Developing relevant skills & employability
• Career Guidance
• More 3rd level options

Following on from his presentation, Conor took questions from the floor and heard from guidance practitioners of their own experience of the current work environment for their students/clients. Phil O Flaherty, Principal Officer with the Further Education and Training Section of DES, opened his presentation by saying that the National Forum on Guidance is a symbolic event by bringing so many interested stakeholders together into the Department. He addressed the forum and outlined the architecture of the National Skills Strategy. Within this strategy, the DES is working on providing a genuine holistic oversight of the system, to produce a series of time bound commitments and a clear need to strengthen relationships locally. To this end the Regional Skills Fora have been developed to provide a space for structured conversation around skill priorities. Following on from his presentation, Phil took questions from the floor and answered how he would see guidance represented at regional fora.

Phyllis Farrell, Plunkett College and James Eustace, SOLAS discuss apprenticeshipsThe third presentation of this meeting was given by Dr Mary Liz Trant and James Eustace of SOLAS. They took this opportunity to share with the Forum the ambitious project to make apprenticeships a source of talent for companies. Solas is keen to get the message across that apprenticeships are a real and viable option for all, transforming status and allowing for social inclusiveness. They outlined the changes in the apprenticeship system as well as detailing the 25 new apprenticeships in development since the Call for proposals. They put it to the forum to look at what steps do we need to take collectively to establish apprenticeship as a large scale, sought after option for skills development and employment in Ireland. Their presentation led to a lot of questions from the floor about how SOLAS see this programme working in practice.

Facilitated group discussions of those present provided an opportunity for members to reflect on information they had received from IBEC, DES and SOLAS. NCGE were delighted that some of those presenting were able to stay to participate in the group discussions and to be heard and hear from guidance practitioners.

The meeting came to a swift end as the facilitated discussions proved lively and informative. Jennifer McKenzie drew attention that the next meeting of the National Forum on Guidance will be held on Wednesday, 19th October 2016


The agenda for the meeting is available for download here.


The final report on discussions at the first meeting of 2016 is available for download here.


Jennifer MacKenzie, Director, NCGE: Welcome and introduction. Brief outline of current guidance provision developments as part of National Skills Strategy

Conor Minogue, Senior Education Executive, IBEC: A business perspective on skills & guidance requirements

Phil O'Flaherty, Principal Officer, Further Education and Training Section, DES: National Skills Strategy - Regional Skills Fora

Dr Mary-Liz Trant and James Eustace, SOLAS: Development of apprenticeship in Ireland