Homemakers and people in employment are to be eligible for free job-specific college courses previously targeted at those who are unemployed.
Courses available through the Springboard+ scheme are now to extend to other groups, towards combatting specific skills shortages. The courses have previously targeted unemployed people in need of upskilling towards re-entering the labour market.
More than 35,000 people have availed of free Springboard+ course places in both third-level and private colleges since Springboard was established in 2011.
Up to this it has been a requirement that applicants were unemployed or in short-time work and in receipt of one of a number of social welfare payments. One exception was for skills conversion courses targeting people to work in information and communications technology (ICT). These accounted for more than 50 of 180 courses offered through Springboard+ last year.
The Springboard+ programme is now being extended to homemakers who might wish to avail of job opportunities in the biopharma and medical technology sectors, and those already in employment who may wish to upskill. The initiative is being expanded due to strong employment growth. More than 8,000 additional jobs are expected to be created in this sector by 2020.
Announcing the changes, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD highlighted the fact that "80% of those who completed past Springboard courses went on to secure employment ... 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.”
The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.
Springboard+ has issued an invitation to colleges and course providers to submit proposals for upskilling programmes to be delivered later this year. It is expected that details of the courses selected for funding will be finalised by June 2017, when applications open for intending participants online at Springboard+
Springboard+ courses are a mix of full-time and part-time courses leading to qualifications ranging from higher certificate to master’s degree level.
Springboard+ participants must, at a minimum, have completed the Leaving Certificate. Those who already have a diploma, degree or post-graduate qualification may also be eligible if they require additional upskilling or reskilling to re-enter employment.
The CareersPortal Team