Ruairí Quinn, the Minister for Education and Skills, and Ciarán Cannon T.D., have recently announced that 6,100 new free higher education places are to be made available, through Springboard, to jobseekers in Ireland.
Springboard provides places for jobseekers on a range of part-time courses that lead to awards at certificate, degree and postgraduate level. Most courses last one year or less. The courses are generally free to jobseekers and specifically target areas where there are job opportunities.
This year Springboard has offered a choice of 171 free courses in 38 different colleges around the country. 21 of the courses on offer are in the area of ICT and are aimed at giving people who may have trained in another area, a chance to learn the skills needed to work in the growing ICT sector.
Speaking about the decision, Mr. Quinn said that the biggest challenge facing Ireland is getting people back into employment, which is what the Springboard programme aims to do. He said that work placements are being offered this year on nearly all Springboard courses in an effort to improve jobseekers’ employment prospects.
The Minister said that the programme is targeting areas of growth such as high end manufacturing, ICT and international financial services, as those areas currently offer the best job opportunities and have a potential for growth.
Since its establishment in 2011, 16, 429 jobseekers have participated in the Springboard programme which received a €54 million investment from the Exchequer. The Government plan on spending a further €25 million on it in 2014/15.
Ciarán Cannon said that one of Springboard’s core features has been the evaluation of the outcomes, such as how people get on in their chosen course and whether they get a job on its completion. Minister Cannon said he was happy that the results showed 94% of participants would recommend it to other job seekers and that more than 50% of the class of 2013 were in sustainable employment or self-employed within six months of finishing their course, with some courses even reported an employment rate of 90%.
The Higher Education Authority has put together a trend analysis to coincide with the announcement. It shows that the majority of applicants are male, between the age of 25 and 39, long-term unemployed and have higher levels of educational qualifications year on year.
The results also showed that more than 6 out of 10 participants complete their course and of those who leave the course early; a third do so due to getting a job.
Applications for Springboard course can be made online at www.springboardcourses.ie. Applicants are required to register with the website and enter a online application form. To search for a course simply click the ‘Search Courses’ button on the website’s homepage. Application deadlines are typically in August or early September but vary for each course. Dates are clearly stated on each individual course description page.
Author: Fiona McBennett