25 May, 2017 - Ministers Bruton and Halligan launch 6,471 free higher education places under Springboard+






Ministers Bruton and Halligan launch 6,471 free higher education places under Springboard+

Homemakers can apply for the First Time

1,171 full-time and 824 part-time two-year ICT Conversion Courses

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan TD, launched over 6,400 new free education places under springboard+ 2017.

The courses are targeted at jobseekers and those in employment or self-employment who wish to upskill, reskill or cross skill in the Biopharma/Med Tech and ICT sectors.  For the first time, homemakers are also eligible to participate in Springboard+ courses this year. 

Incorporating part-time Springboard courses and full-time and part-time ICT skills conversion courses, Springboard+ 2017 will provide for 198 courses at public and private educational institutions across Ireland. Courses approved for funding will be in the following skills needs areas:

  • ICT
  • Manufacturing which includes the Biopharma/Med tech sector
  • Entrepreneurship,
  • Hospitality
  • Financial Services

There will also be a limited number of courses in Marketing (including digital marketing), specialist management courses (Food Business, Aviation and Technology Management), Animation and specialist Construction related courses.

Minister Bruton said:

“I am delighted with the success of Springboard+ and its success in getting people back into employment in sectors where there are identified skills needs. When the initiative was first introduced in 2011 unemployment was at 15%. Unemployment has now dropped to 6.8% and over 200,000 more people are at work than in early 2012 when I launched the Action Plan for Jobs.

“One of my priorities in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade, is to create a greater diversity of learning opportunities beyond school through initiatives such as Springboard+.

“Springboard has been particularly successful at giving people the skills to get back into the workforce. 80% of Springboard participants (2011 – 2015) are no longer on the Live Register.

“This year we are expanding the programme to Homemakers, and those in employment in the Biopharma/Med Tech sector to meet a specific emerging skills need.

"Given the success of this innovative programme to date I am hopeful that we will be in a position to expand the Springboard+ model in the years ahead.”

Minister Halligan underlined the importance of providing flexible part-time courses in assisting jobseekers into employment and in upskilling and reskilling those in employment.  He said, “given the expansion of the eligibility criteria for Springboard+ 2017, I am delighted to see that there will be a good mix of delivery modes of Springboard+ courses which will ensure that all participants, whether unemployed, in employment or homemakers will be able to avail of a suitable course.  Under Springboard+ 2017, 54% of courses will be delivered on a blended, distance and e-learning basis”.

The 6,471 places now on offer represent an investment of €27,438,000 from the National Training Fund with co-funding from the European Union under the European Social Fund, as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Since 2011 over €134m has been allocated to Springboard+ providing for over 35,000 places.  The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority, on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. 

Full details on Springboard+, together with the eligibility criteria and how to apply, are available on www.springboardcourses.ie

A Freephone Guidance line is available to offer advice on course choices and applications on 1800 303 523


Note for Editors

Background to Springboard:

Springboard, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills, began in 2011 as part of the Government’s Jobs Initiative. It complements the core State-funded education and training system and provides free upskilling and reskilling higher education opportunities in areas of identified skills need. The initiative’s primary target group are unemployed people with a previous history of employment.

The ICT skills conversion programme was introduced in 2012 as a means toaddress concerns by industry and the enterprise development agencies about continuing difficulties in sourcing ICT graduates with requisite skills.

Since 2015, Springboard courses and ICT conversion courses have been run as a joint initiative under the banner brand Springboard+.

Springboard+ courses are at Level 6 (Certificate) to Level 9 (Masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are delivered in public and private higher education providers around the country. Courses are not all a full award at each level – they may also be minor awards or special purposes awards. 90% of courses (with the exception of entrepreneurship-based courses) have a work placement.

All courses approved for funding under Springboard+ are selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process. In particular, courses with a proven track record in getting people back into employment are recommended for funding. 

Springboard+ 2017 selection panel

  • Mr Fergal O’Moran (Chair)
  • Mr Alan McNamee (Opennet)
  • Mr Charlie Dolan (consultant, ex-Eli Lilly)
  • Ms Breda O’Sullivan (IDA)
  • Ms Niamh Mernagh (ex-DES inspectorate)
  • Mr Mark Christal (EI)

Full details on Springboard+ courses, the eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the website: www.springboardcourses.ie