Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins have today launched 10,158 places on 294 courses under Springboard+ 2021 for unemployed, self-employed or returners to work.
There are also 1,101 places on 1 and 2 year information technology (ICT) graduate conversion courses on offer under the initiative. The Human Capital Initiative (HCI) will also fund 1,869 places on 78 graduate courses.
Springboard+ provides higher education courses in areas where skills are most needed. Courses are from level 6 (certificate) to level 9 (master’s degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) . They are delivered by public and private higher education institutions around the country.
Courses are free for people who are unemployed, who were previously self-employed, and people returning to work. NFQ level 6 courses (higher and advanced certificates) are also free for employed people.
For employed learners on courses from NFQ level 7 to level 9, the state pays 90% of the course fee, with learners paying just 10% of the fee. Levels 7 to 9 include ordinary and honours bachelor degrees, higher and post-graduate diplomas, and master’s degrees.
Applications will open on Wednesday, 16 June, and a helpline for applicants will be available on 1800 303523.
Now in its tenth year, over 75,000 people have benefitted from the Springboard+ programme. The programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
The National Training Fund gives funding to Springboard+ every year, with over €290m of funding provided since it started in 2011.
The HCI initiative provides additional capacity across the higher education sector to meet priority skill needs for business. Graduate conversion programmes under the HCI offer incentivised places for graduates to learn new skills in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These run alongside and add to the Springboard+ courses.
Approval has already been granted for courses under HCI Pillar 1 to run for the 2021 to 2022 academic year, as part of the approval process last year.
Minister Harris said, “as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need.”
“Springboard+ and the graduate conversion courses under the Human Capital Initiative provide a targeted response to skills needs, enabling people to upskill and reskill in areas of critical importance which have come to the fore as a result of COVID-19, including cybersecurity, virtual reality, health innovation, and logistics.”
“Programmes in climate/sustainability and energy, which are central to the Programme for Government, are also being funded.”
Minister Collins said, “Springboard+ training programmes provide people who are unemployed, those looking to return to the workforce and those in employment with a great opportunity to upskill or reskill in areas in which employers need skilled workers.”
“I am particularly pleased that courses provided under Springboard+ 2021 will continue to be delivered in a flexible manner, 90% of Springboard+ courses will be delivered in a more flexible format which will enable more people to engage in upskilling and reskilling.”
Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA said, “as Springboard+ reaches its 10th year, we celebrate our 75,000 learners who have upskilled or reskilled to improve their career opportunities or who have simply taken their first steps towards re-entering the workforce after some time away.”
“We also celebrate the work of our higher education institutions collaborating with Enterprise in contributing to Ireland’s life-ling learning agenda and meeting Ireland’s national and regional skills needs.”