Press Release

ATU Boosts Optum Employee Education with RPL

January 11, 2024
ATU Conferring Awards_Optum

Press Release

11 January 2023


ATU Boosts Optum Employee Education with Recognition of Prior Learning

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) recently celebrated the graduation of 20 Optum employees who successfully earned a BSc in Applied Data Technologies. This achievement was made possible through the innovative use of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), marking the inaugural RPL for Enterprise Cohort at ATU. The collaboration between ATU and Optum provided employees with a unique opportunity to leverage their prior learning from work, life, and community experiences for advanced entry into higher education and exemptions from programme modules.

This initiative was the first RPL for Enterprise Cohort in ATU and provided a reskilling and upskilling opportunity for the employer and the employees. Christine McCabe RPL Coordinator, ATU Donegal said, “By using RPL, ATU gives recognition for what someone already knows, understands, and can do prior to starting on a programme or module. This eliminates the duplication of learning, meaning that they don’t have to relearn things they already know, and they enter higher education at the level most appropriate to them. ATU values the role RPL has in upskilling, reskilling, and for staff retention and are working with employers and stakeholders to embed RPL in the organisations’ policies and practices.”

Jade Lyons, Head of Department of Computing at ATU Donegal further added, “Collaborating with Optum highlighted the power of partnership in advancing education and industry expertise. We understand how RPL is beneficial for employers and employees as it allows for a more efficient use of resources, helping to reduce the time and cost associated with obtaining qualifications. By recognising this learning, we can reward individuals for their ‘invisible’ expertise, skills and knowledge and support them to access further education and training opportunities, and to progress in their careers. In addition, RPL has long been identified as a tool to promote social inclusion and reduce inequalities in the labour market.”

For employers like Optum, RPL offers advantages in recruitment, and staff development. Jeanette Peoples, Director of Training Governance at Optum added, “Optum has a culture that encourages our employees to progress and develop their careers. RPL has given our colleagues an opportunity to recognise the knowledge they have gained through experience and use that to gain entry to achieve a formal qualification.

This programme has allowed us to develop our own talent, but we could never have realised it without the support of so many leaders at ATU. Through this experience we have built a fantastic relationship with ATU that is based on collaboration, trust and a deep understanding of the skills we need as a business. We look forward to continuing to work with ATU in the future.”

The world of work is changing rapidly, and employees need to be able to adapt to new roles and technologies quickly. People, their skills, talent and knowledge, have always been and will continue to be, critical to Ireland’s economic and social success.

Grace Edge, Project Director of National RPL in Higher Education, outlined “RPL is an enabler for talent development and retention, lifelong learning and skills development. As we look to the future, we know that many workers will need to frequently pivot and change roles and sectors and do so quickly. RPL can help to make this transition smoother by providing a way to recognise and build on existing skills and knowledge, rather than starting from scratch.”

This pilot project between ATU and Optum was supported by the National RPL in Higher Education Project, funded by HEA/HCI pillar 3.