Almost 6,5000 Free Higher Education Places Created Under Springboard+

Almost 6,500 free higher education places are to be created under Springboard+, the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton and the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan have announced.

The new courses are targeted at jobseekers and those in employment or self-employment who wish to upskill, reskill or cross skill in the Biopharma/Med Tech and ICT sectors. For the first time, homemakers are also eligible to participate in Springboard+ courses this year.

Incorporating part-time Springboard courses and full-time and part-time ICT skills conversion courses, Springboard+ 2017 will provide for 198 courses at public and private educational institutions across Ireland. Courses approved for funding will be in the following skills needs areas:


• Manufacturing which includes the Biopharma/Med tech sector

• Entrepreneurship,

• Hospitality

• Financial Services

There will also be a limited number of courses in Marketing (including digital marketing), specialist management courses (Food Business, Aviation and Technology Management), Animation and specialist Construction related courses.

Minister Bruton said: "I am delighted with the success of Springboard+ and its success in getting people back into employment in sectors where there are identified skills needs. 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 when I launched the Action Plan for Jobs.

"One of my priorities in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade, is to create a greater diversity of learning opportunities beyond school through initiatives such as Springboard+.

"Springboard has been particularly successful at giving people the skills to get back into the workforce. 80% of Springboard participants (2011 – 2015) are no longer on the Live Register.

"This year we are expanding the programme to Homemakers, and those in employment in the Biopharma/Med Tech sector to meet a specific emerging skills need.

"Given the success of this innovative programme to date I am hopeful that we will be in a position to expand the Springboard+ model in the years ahead."

Minister Halligan underlined the importance of providing flexible part-time courses in assisting jobseekers into employment and in upskilling and reskilling those in employment.

He said: "Given the expansion of the eligibility criteria for Springboard+ 2017, I am delighted to see that there will be a good mix of delivery modes of Springboard+ courses which will ensure that all participants, whether unemployed, in employment or homemakers will be able to avail of a suitable course. Under Springboard+ 2017, 54% of courses will be delivered on a blended, distance and e-learning basis."

The 6,471 places now on offer represent an investment of €27,438,000 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.

Since 2011 over €134m has been allocated to Springboard+ providing for over 35,000 places.  The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority, on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.


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