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Education key to getting people “Job-Ready” – Minister Quinn launches call for new €10 million Springboard Programme to provide free part-time higher education places

The Education sector will play a central role in successfully implementing the Government’s new ‘Pathways to Work’ plan and ensuring people are ‘Job-Ready’ according to Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD.

“As Minister for Education and Skills, it is my responsibility to ensure that the opportunities we offer to those who have lost their jobs are flexible enough to meet the entire spectrum of needs of what is a very diverse cohort in the current economic downturn. 

“An optimal response must be to provide relevant education and training at all levels in areas where we know there are clearly identified employment opportunities available for the right people with the right skills.

I’m therefore delighted to announce a new call for Springboard 2012; a key plank of our response.”

Springboard 2012 will provide free part-time higher education places to enable unemployed people to upskill and reskill in areas of identified skills needs where sustainable employment opportunities are expected to arise.

Educational institutions have been asked to submit proposals for courses which can be included in the programme.

In keeping with Springboard’s aim of leading to employment, courses in the programme must address an identified current or future skills need. These include information and communications technology (ICT); the green economy; biopharma-pharmachem; the food and beverage sector; international financial services; the medical devices sector; wholesale and retail; and cross-enterprise skills needs, including international sales skills, specialist business and management skills, and entrepreneurship.

It is anticipated that the applications process for students will be launched in May 2012 and that courses will commence from the summer onwards.

This new call for Springboard 2012 is in addition to announcements earlier this month of an extra 500 places on the existing Springboard programme and 750 new places on graduate conversion programmes to meet the skills needs of the ICT sector.  These 750 places are being provided under the new joint Government- industry ICT Action Plan.



Notes for editors:

Aim of Springboard:

The primary objective of Springboard 2012 is to help unemployed and previously self-employed people to remain as close as possible to the labour market by accessing part-time flexible higher education and training opportunities to up-skill or re-skill in areas where sustainable employment opportunities may arise as the economy recovers.

The programme also aims to enhance collaboration and engagement between the enterprise sector and higher education providers in the design and delivery of relevant and responsive higher education programmes to support job creation and expansion in line with the objectives of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

Evaluation of the programme in 2012 and 2013 will include employment-related outcomes from the initiative.

The profile of people enrolled on Springboard 2011 programmes show that 77% of participants were aged between 25-49, and that 60% of participants had been out of work for between 1-5 years.


The target cohorts identified for support through Springboard 2012 are:

  • Unemployed people who already hold a National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) award at Level 5 (FETAC certificate/ Leaving Certificate) or a FETAC award at NFQ Level 6 (Advanced certificate) or equivalent, with a previous history of employment in construction, manufacturing or other sectors of the economy where employment levels are unlikely to recover to pre-recession levels.
  • Unemployed people with a previous history of employment who already hold a higher level qualification at NFQ Levels 6 (Higher certificate) to 9 (Masters degree), who may also require additional upskilling or reskilling in order to re-enter employment.
  • Previously self employed people at all qualifications level who may require new qualifications to return to self employment or enter employment. 

Please see

for further information about the NFQ.

To be eligible to apply for a place, a person must be unemployed and actively seeking employment. Details of eligible payments and other eligibility criteria will be published in advance of 2012 courses opening for application.