Check against Delivery
I am delighted to be here this morning to launch Springboard+ 2015 which incorporates the ICT skills conversion programme.
Now in its fifth year Springboard is playing a crucial role in rapidly responding to emerging skills needs in high-growth areas.
The Government’s consistent, over-riding priority from the day we took office has been on getting people back to work and that is why we are committed to ensuring that an appropriate mix of education, training and employment supports are available to all our citizens.
Thankfully unemployment levels are continuing to fall and over 45,000 people have returned to work over the past year. With unemployment at its lowest level since 2009.
We have set an ambitious but realistic target of returning to full employment by 2018. We want to support people to get back to work.
That’s why the Government has invested some €85 million to date in Springboard over the past five years. This has enabled over 21,000 people an opportunity to upskill or reskill in skill areas where there are employment opportunities.
In 2015, we are investing €27 million to provide 9,000 places on over 285 courses, in 42 colleges around the country. This is the biggest offering of courses yet and shows our determination to support people to find employment or set up their own business.
Strong engagement from employers in the development and selection of courses is critical to the success of the Springboard programme.
The Springboard Initiative has brought about a culture change within the higher education system bringing an enhanced and productive industry focus to the design and delivery of courses.
I look forward to hearing from John Gleeson, from GM Ireland who is an employer engaging with Springboard.
I am delighted to hear that the assessment of this year’s proposals found that the overall quality of the proposals was very high and that proposals were very much aligned with the guidance from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.
I would at this stage like to acknowledge and thank the expert panel members for their commitment to the assessment of Springboard proposals.
This year courses will focus on areas such as ICT, Manufacturing, Construction, Entrepreneurship, Cross-Enterprise Skills and International Financial Services. As we are aware, all of these sectors are the basis for sustainable economic recovery.
I am delighted to see that we have two Springboard graduates with us this morning. Maire Ryle and Ciaran Lynch, I look forward to hearing about your positive experience of Springboard.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of staff from higher education institutions who provide Springboard courses, and who together with local enterprise have been instrumental in developing these cutting edge programmes.
In conclusion, I want to thank Mary Liz and the team in the HEA, for managing and promoting Springboard+.
Thank you all for coming here today and for your commitment to ensuring that Springboard+ 2015 will be as successful as other years.