Go back


Working Group

Chair: Orla Bannon

Orla Bannon is the Director of Careers at Trinity College Dublin. She has responsibility for managing the scale and quality of academic and student engagement with careers, as well as partnerships with employers, to deliver a truly world-class careers service at Trinity. She provides leadership to the Careers Team, promotes the value of the Careers Service across the University, and acts as a centre of expertise, advising and contributing to the University’s objectives in terms of employability and skills development, and the wider student experience.

Orla holds a degree in Biochemistry from Trinity, an MBA from UCD/RCSI and a Diploma in Personnel Management (NCI). She has over 25 years of management experience in both the public and private sectors in areas such as healthcare, higher education, IT and publishing.


Vice-Chair: Annette Retsch

Annette Retsch is head of the Career Centre at the University of Würzburg since its inception in 2007. Her responsibilities include the strategic direction of the development, planning, evaluation of about 100 transversal skills workshops and lectures every year. She specialises in individual career consulting and methods for sustainable professional development. Furthermore, she was responsible for the conceptual development of an individualised Virtual Exchange Program and allowing its embedding in curricula.

Prior to her commitment to employability activities, she graduated in German and English Studies with the state examination for the teaching profession at secondary schools and completed her PhD thesis in German and English linguistics on paratextual elements in German literature.

Focus of Working Group

We are living in fast-paced, dynamic, and uncertain times where economic, societal, and global needs are rapidly changing and where a highly skilled adaptable workforce is essential. A strong knowledge economy needs opportunities for lifelong skills development, which matches the skills needs of employers, both now and in the future. These skills provide the attitude and ability to recognise and pursue opportunities for new value creation and problem solving addressing the challenges of our time. Continuous innovation and agility in higher education and research is required to futureproof the graduate pipeline allowing society and industry to flourish and develop continuously.

Enhancing students’ employability to meet the rapidly evolving needs of learners, society and industry is now a core part of a higher education institution’s curriculum. In this context, the collaboration and exchange of experiences within the Employability Working Group of the Coimbra Group (CG) aims to:

  • Improve the visibility and recognition of the value of careers and employability services in CG universities;
  • Increase joint collaborative projects on how career services are organised, deliver their services, and support their universities (professionalisation of career services);
  • Prepare students for the 21st century global labour market and lifelong learning.

Priorities for 2023-2026

  • Improve the visibility and recognition of the value of careers and employability services in CG universities through publications, seminars, and increased collaboration.
  • Develop a good practice framework for Careers Services working as consultants to academics (teachers, researchers, programme directors, academics) and facilitators of academic-enterprise engagement.
  • Define key future skills and explore how to support students to develop these both within and outside the curriculum, including tailoring to different groups (e.g., students, doctoral students, international students, and students with the status of refugees).
  • Increase our awareness and understanding of micro-credentials and open badges and the opportunities they present for careers, employability, and skills development within CG Universities.
  • Grow the international mentoring programme for CG University students to participate in with a focus on broadening their understanding of the skills required across different labour market sectors in different countries.

Recent highlights

  • Development of a key future skills profile (nine categories) across CG Universities, which will be used as the foundation for our future work.
  • Meeting with the European Commission in Brussels in December 2022 to get update on plans for the European Year of Skills 2023 and potential synergies with the EMP WG at both European and national level.
  • Knowledge sharing meeting in Brussels in December 2022 with all EMP WG members presenting an overview of the current labour market in their country followed by discussion on how these insights can be incorporated into and shape our work, e.g., with international students.
  • Connections made with Education and Innovation, and Doctoral Studies Working Groups on potential for collaboration, e.g., joint seminars.
  • Members of EMP WG to participate in workshops organised by the European Commission as part of the European Research Area Policy Action 11.3: ERA4FutureWork, e.g., green transition and working life, and digital transition and working life.

Ongoing/forthcoming activities


  • Prepare an overview (e-publication) of career and employability services across CG Universities (Summer 2023).
  • Future skills in/out the curriculum: Mapping of good practices at CG universities to identify key skills areas with a focus on drivers at university/national/business level (Summer 2023).
  • Define the scope and structure of the International Mentoring Programme from 2023-26 and roll out on that basis (December 2023).
  • Micro-credentials and Open Badges
    • Prepare an internal EMP WG report on micro-credentials and open badges detailing relevance to careers, employability, and skills development (Summer 2023).
    • Invite experts on micro-credentials and open badges to EMP WG meetings to explore opportunities (Ongoing).
    • Mapping involvement across CG Universities and European Alliances (December 2023).


  • Write a Statement Paper on the relevance and value of careers and employability services to CG universities (December 2024).
  • Develop a proposal for high-level seminar on careers and employability (by end of 2024 with seminar to take place in 2025).
  • Create a good practice framework for Career Services working with academics related to embedding and extracting employability in the curriculum and supporting academic-enterprise engagement in work-based learning. Explore potential links with Education Innovation WG (Summer 2024).
  • Develop tailored skills training based on future skills identified for different target groups, e.g. students, doctoral students, international students and students with the status of refugees (December 2024).
  • Design a tool-box on how to develop future skills with focus on universities´ solutions as well as private sector activities (December 2024).
  • Develop a proposal for a joint seminar with Doctoral Studies WG focussing on careers and employability support for PhD students (by end of 2024 with seminar to take place in 2025).
  • Micro-credentials and Open Badges: Write a report on findings and recommendations based on earlier research across CG Universities and present at seminar (possible link with Education Innovation WG) (Summer 2024 with seminar to take place in 2025).


  • Hold seminars mentioned above (Throughout 2025).
  • Prepare case studies on innovation in academic engagement (Summer 2025).
  • Prepare a manual on how to prepare and deliver a workshop on future skills to be applicable at all CG partner universities (December 2025).

Contact person at the CG Office: Catarina Moleiro (moleiro@coimbra-group.eu)