Business Education News

10,500 Free Courses for Unemployed Returners to Work

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins, have launched 10,697 places on 275 free courses, under Springboard+ 2022.

Springboard+ courses are from Level 6 (certificate) to Level 9 (masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications and are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country.

Minister Harris said, “as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and in the current economic climate, where new technologies and business practices are on the rise and issues such as climate change must be urgently addressed, lifelong learning is essential to ensure employability, meet societal needs and enable personal fulfilment.”

“Upskilling is important for everyone in employment, regardless of their occupation or current skill levels. Springboard+ and the graduate conversion courses under the Human Capital Initiative are a key part of the government’s strategy to ensure we are planning for the future skills needs of our economy, which is critical to delivering on our ambitions as a nation.”

Springboard+ 2022 courses are in the areas of new and emerging technologies, including:

  • cybersecurity
  • artificial intelligence
  • climate and sustainability
  • construction
  • energy
  • health innovation
  • logistics
  • online retail
  • creative industries

All of these areas demonstrate the responsiveness of the higher-education sector to advances in technology and changes in our environment.

Now entering its twelfth year, over 90,000 people have benefitted from the programme to date. The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Funding is allocated to Springboard+ from the National Training Fund on an annual basis. €41.4 million has been allocated to Springboard+ for the calendar year 2022. Since 2011, over €330 million has been spent on Springboard+.

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+ 2022 will continue to be delivered in a flexible manner, in excess of 95% of the courses will be delivered in a flexible format which will enable more people to engage in upskilling and reskilling around the country.”

Springboard+ provides higher-education courses in areas of identified skills needs. Courses are free for people who are:

  • unemployed
  • previously self-employed
  • returning to the workforce

Courses are also free for employed people on NFQ Level 6 courses. For employed participants on courses NFQ level 7 to 9, 90% of the course fee is funded by the state, with students required to contribute just 10% of the fee.

Dr. Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA said, “the Springboard+ and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives, continue to support the delivery of higher education courses in key skill need areas of the Irish economy. The initiatives have enabled over 95,000 participants to upskill in their current role or re skill to pursue a new career path. The unique feature of the initiatives is that their content is responsive to and reflective of the changing needs of industry in an era of significant technological advances.”

In addition, under HCI Pillar 1, there will be funding for:

  • 2,341 places on 90 graduate conversion courses in 2022 to 2023
  • 890 places on 27 ICT courses, funded on a three-year basis in the 2020 to 2021 academic year

This leads to a combined total of 13,928 places under Springboard+2022 and HCI Pillar 1 in 2022 to 2023.

HCI provides additional capacity across the higher-education sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise. Graduate conversion programmes under the HCI offer incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2022 or HCI Pillar 1 courses will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website.

Applications will open this afternoon, Wednesday, 25 May and a helpline for applicants will be available on 1800 303523 from early June.

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