04 June, 2018 - Government launch Springboard+ 2018

Free upskilling and reskilling courses for unemployed & homemakers, 90% funded for employed

Over 8,000 places, on 245 courses across the country, 25% increase on last year

Government puts emphasis on importance of lifelong learning and upskilling

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, T.D. and the Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan T.D., today launched a new suite of courses under Springboard+ 2018.

This government is committed to making Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Lifelong learning and upskilling are key to achieving this ambition and are particularly vital in an economy approaching full employment.

Springboard+ provides free higher education courses in areas of identified skills needs to unemployed people, those previously self-employed and those returning to work. Courses will also be free for employed people on NFQ Level 6 courses. For employed participants on courses NFQ level 7 – 9, 90% of the course fee will be funded by the Government, with participants required to contribute just 10% of the fee.

Over 8,000 places will be available this coming academic year on 245 courses across the country, including in new areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence. This is an increase of almost 25% on the previous year.

Since 2011 over €161m has been allocated to Springboard+ providing for over 47,000 places. The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority, on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Minister Bruton said “Ireland’s economic bounceback has been achieved by many enterprises and workers who reinvented their business, but we have also seen nearly 50,000 people reinvent themselves by using Springboard to change career. This is still a very exiting pathway which we are now opening to those in employment and homemakers. There are now over 8,000 places on 245 courses across the country - a 25% increase on last year.”

Minister Halligan commented “The speed of development of new technologies will inevitably affect the future workplace and there will be no escaping these changes. What is new and innovative today will be outdated in no time. It will be vital for employees to continue to upskill and reskill to keep up to date with the latest technologies. Springboard+ provides excellent opportunities to the unemployed and those in employment to upskill or reskill to keep pace with the advances in technology.”

The 8,088 places on offer under Springboard+ 2018 represents an investment of €30.438m 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.

Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2018 will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website www.springboardcourses.ie

ENDS 

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 to address 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 by 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.

The majority of courses approved under Springboard+ 2018 commence in Autumn 2018, however there are a number of courses that start later in 2018 and in early 2019. Full details on Springboard+ courses, the eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the website: www.springboardcourses.ie

An evaluation of Springboard+ 2011-2016 showed the following:

  • 80% of Springboard+ participants 2011-2015 are no longer on the live register.
  • Employment rates 3-6 months after graduation have increased from 37% in 2011 to 61% in 2014.
  • ICT Conversion Graduates has the highest employment rates 3-6 months after graduation at 73% in 2014.
  • Online only courses have increased from 10% of places in 2011 to 15% in 2016, giving access to courses from anywhere in the country.

Survey results show strong positive sentiment to participation in Springboard+

  • 90% of respondents strongly agree or agree that Springboard+ has had a positive impact on their life.
  • 96% of respondents said they would recommend and Springboard+ course to their family and friends.
  • 71% of all respondents, and 78% of ICT Skills Conversion Course respondents, either strongly agree or agree that since finishing their courses, their overall outlook and optimism about their career prospects improved.

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