AONTAS: Advocacy Lead


AONTAS, The National Adult Learning Organisation is seeking to recruit an experienced advocate with practical awareness of current debates on lifelong learning for the newly created position of Advocacy Lead. AONTAS is a non-governmental voluntary membership organisation established in 1969. Its mission is to advocate for the right of all adults in Ireland to quality learning throughout their lives, and to promote the value and benefits of lifelong learning. The organisation’s priorities for the next four years are outlined in the current Strategic Plan, Learning: A Lifetime’s Work adopted by the AONTAS membership in November 2014.

The Purpose of the Advocacy Lead role is to:

  • Advocate for the AONTAS membership by seeking to understand their needs
  • Respond to the membership’s current issues by providing evidence-based policy positions

Key Responsibilities of the Advocacy Lead will be to:

  • Advocate for members

    • Actively engage with, communicate with and listen to members to understand their needs
    • Work collaboratively and methodically to plan and execute advocacy activities that respond to the needs of members
  • Provide evidence-based policy positions that responds to members’ needs
    • Analyse policy
    • Perform research
    • Stay informed of current issues, trends and changes in the adult learning environment.
    • Write and submit reports, position papers and briefs
    • Liaise with the media as a subject matter expert
  • Engage with members
    • Actively engage and communicate with members and AONTAS teams in support of the policy positions and to effectively execute advocacy activities
    • Actively engage external stakeholders like government spokespersons, officials and decision makers with AONTAS’ policy position
    • Build productive relationships with national and European research funding bodies
  • Lead a complimentary team
    • Develop and manage a team in areas such as team work practices, capabilities, knowledge, performance, and employee well-being
    • Work with the CEO and Finance Lead to implement company policies and procedures
  • Contribute to developing AONTAS
    • At all times, operate to the highest professional, ethical and performance standards. This includes adapting effortlessly to changing circumstances in AONTAS and undertaking, surrendering or realigning any responsibility, within reason, the CEO requires. This job description broadly describes your role however it is not an exhaustive list of responsibilities and may vary from time to time to provide for change.

Measures of Success

  • Evidence-based policy position papers produced, that influence decision makers
  • Collaborative and supportive relationship with the CEO and fellow team leads
  • Clear alignment between policy positions and membership needs
  • Productive and inclusive relationships with members, AONTAS teams and stakeholders
  • Ambitious advocacy activity plans and progress review reports of those plans
  • Well-performing, satisfied team

Skills and Attributes:

The ideal candidate for this position will be a highly motivated advocate who is a dynamic self-starter with strong practical skills. The person will have a high level of personal responsibility and be able to cope with and respond positively to change. Specifically the ideal candidate:

  • Is curious and open minded, listening to people to explore new ideas and alternatives
  • Is observant, constantly scanning the environment to understand sentiment, to make connections and fit it all into a ‘big picture’
  • Is energetic and enthusiastic, sharing their ideas and finding people who will listen
  • Is an excellent communicator, connecting people and ideas in a natural and unforced way
  • Has an empathetic disposition, cooperating and championing shared values
  • Is methodical and conscientious, applying discipline and purpose to every task
  • Is analytical - enjoys and is good at analysing and making sense of information
  • Seeks out learning opportunities and has a willingness to learn and adapt
  • Leads with a high and sure degree of personal integrity
  • Performs well at the Civil Service Higher Executive Officer level

Qualifications and Experience

The ideal candidate for this position will:

  • Technical:

    • Hold a Masters by Research or PhD in a relevant area to the strategic purpose of AONTAS
    • Have experience of analysing policy, developing a response and writing reports
    • Have experience of writing policy submissions
  • Sector:
    • Have political nous and knowledge of how Irish politics works
    • Have practical awareness of current debates on lifelong learning in Ireland and internationally
    • Have proven experience of building relationships and engaging with internal and external stakeholders at a National level and in a not-for-profit environment
  • Other:
    • Be media-savvy, including online and traditional media
    • Experience of leading a team and growing the capacity of the team members


  • The Advocacy Lead will be based in the AONTAS Head Office located in Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Terms and Conditions

  • The Advocacy Lead reports to the CEO of AONTAS.
  • This a full-time employment contract. A probation period of six months is observed.
  • The salary offered will be within the parameters of the salary scale equivalent of a Higher Executive Officer (Higher Scale) in the Civil Service. Candidates should note that entry will be at the minimum of the scale or negotiated depending on the candidate’s current salary.
  • AONTAS offers an attractive pension scheme which employees are required to join on completion of probation.
  • Annual leave is 29 days with the capacity for extension to 30 days based on length of service.
  • AONTAS operates a standard working week, Monday to Friday, of 37 hours. The work of the Advocacy Lead requires flexibility with some unsocial hours and travel.

Application Process

  • All applications are to be submitted using the following link:
  • The closing date for applications is 1st February 2017
  • The first of the interviews are expected to take place in the week commencing 6th February 2017.
  • Versari Partners is managing the recruitment of the Advocacy Lead on behalf of AONTAS. Any queries about this position should be directed to Belinda Brummer at +353 (01) 525 7384. At this time, introductions are not being accepted by recruitment agencies


Ranelagh, Dublin 6

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