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Springboard to launch 6,000 back into education and jobs

‘Qualifications tailored to skills needs’ – Minister Quinn

Another 6,000 free part-time higher education places are being made available to provide re-training opportunities for jobseekers. The third Springboard allocation was announced today by the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D.

Over 200 Springboard courses will be provided at 38 Institutes of Technology, Universities and privately-run higher education colleges across Ireland for individuals to acquire new skills that are in demand in the economy.

The courses will focus on growth areas such as Information Technology, Communication, International Languages and International Financial Services. Programmes will also be available to acquire qualifications in areas such as Six Sigma, international selling, business start-up and entrepreneurship skills.

The 6,000 places now on offer represent a €23 million investment by the Department of Education and Skills to equip jobseekers with new skills in sectors with good employment prospects. Courses are free, part-time, and are at certificate, degree and postgraduate level. Applications can now be made on

Announcing the 6,000 free places, Minister Quinn said: “Springboard is providing a dynamic pipeline of job-ready graduates, with up-to-the-minute skills and valuable qualifications for sectors of the Irish economy that are expanding and recruiting. This practical initiative, which is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, is tailored to labour-market needs and designed to stimulate economic growth.”

Over 2,000 job-seekers have successfully returned to work in the past year on completion of a Springboard course. A further 3,000 will complete courses this month and are preparing to return to the jobs market with qualifications tailored to high-growth industries.

Springboard’s partnership with an expert panel, that identifies the expertise required in the economy as well as guidance on course content, is key to this programme’s success.

In the third year of the Springboard programme, there is a greater focus on delivering the skills required by growing industries through the content and design of the courses being offered to jobseekers. Over 80 per cent of courses will also offer a work placement for participants.

Chairman of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) John Hennessy, said that Springboard is more than an education initiative; it is driving a culture change within the system.

“The Springboard approach is transforming how we prepare people for the jobs market. Instead of education administrators designing courses in the hope that they make people employable, we start with industry needs. Courses offer the skills-set employers need from graduates, in conjunction with educators,” said Mr Hennessy.

Springboard is managed by the HEA on behalf of the Department. It works in an integrated way with the other strands of the Government’s industry focused skills initiatives (Springboard, Momentum, ICT conversion, Skillnets, JobBridge) that come under the Skills Plus umbrella.

A Freephone Guidance line 1800 303 523 is available to offer advice on course choices and applications.


For Further Media Information:

Siobhán Creaton, Director of Communications, Department of Education and Skills

01 8892415 or 087 9416286

Malcolm Byrne, Head of Communications, HEA, 086 2237102

Caroline Moody at Caroline Moody Communications

087 265 2485

Note for Editors

Springboard is designed for people with a previous history of employment who worked in sectors such as construction that are in economic decline, and who may have to change career paths to get back into sustainable employment.

Springboard was first launched as part of the Government’s jobs initiative in May 2011. Since then over 10,000 people have been supported to undertake part time higher education courses in areas of identified skills needs.

Springboard courses are selected by an expert industry and education panel chaired by Senator Feargal Quinn (see full list of members below). All courses are offered for a maximum of 12 months and are based on identified current or future skills need within the economy. Participants who complete these courses will be awarded a higher education or training award at Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Applications for Springboard programmes are managed through a central online information and applications system-


To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course a person must be unemployed, actively seeking employment, and be in receipt of one of the qualifying Department of Social Protection payments or be signing for credits or be previously self employed.

Full details on the available courses and the eligibility criteria can be found on the website.

Springboard selection panel

Chair of Group: Senator Feargal Quinn

Mr Ray Bowe, Project Manager Skills Unit, Industrial Development Authority (IDA)

Mr Charles Dolan, Recently retired from Eli Lilly; Chairman of Education and Skills Group at the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC); President, Irish Science Teachers Association

Ms Tina Gannon, Client Skills Unit, Enterprise Ireland

Ms Una Halligan, Chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs

Mr Joe Hogan, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Openet

Ms Niamh Mernagh, Educationalist, former Senior Inspector for Guidance (Post-Primary) in the Department of Education and Skills

Skills Plus

In addition to Springboard, the other strands of the Government’s industry focused upskilling and reskilling initiatives brought together under the Skills Plus heading are:

· Momentum

Momentum, which is co-financed by the European Social Fund, is providing a range of free education & training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are unemployed for 12 months or more. The training, which is aligned up to NFQ levels 5 and 6, is being provided within the context of four themes. Three of the themes support occupational clusters where demand and vacancies exist. A fourth theme focuses on the specific needs of people under the age of 25. Further information is available at

· ICT conversion programmes

769 places have been made available under the second phase of the ICT graduate skills conversion programme in 2013. The programmes, which are free of charge to participants are all highly intensive and lead to an honours degree level award (NFQ level 8) in computer science and include a work placement of 3 to 6 months with an industry partner. Further information is available at

· Skillnets jobseeker programmes

Skillnets which is an enterprise-led body funded through the National Training Fund (NTF) to provide companies with new opportunities to develop relevant, effective answers to their training and development needs have been set ambitious targets for 2013 similar to 2012 to train 40,000 persons, of which up to 8,000 will be targeted at the long-term unemployed. Further information is available at

· JobBridge

JobBridge provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals at all skills levels and all levels of educational attainment. JobBridge is targeted at individuals who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months (78 Days).18,216 JobBridge internships had commenced by 13th June, 2013, with 6,010 participants on an internship and 1,957 opportunities advertised on the JobBridge website on that date. Further information is available at

For an overview of the coordinated approach see