Over 6,000 new places announced on Springboard 2012

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., together with the Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon T.D., today announced 6,000 new part-time higher education places for unemployed people as part of a further roll out of the Springboard initiative.

36 institutes of technology, universities and privately-run higher education colleges around the country will be offering 220 Springboard courses.
These courses will be in the expanding enterprise areas of ICT, medical devices, the green economy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, and international financial services.  Programmes will also be available in cutting edge cross-enterprise skills such as Six Sigma, lean and quality systems, international selling, languages, business start-up and entrepreneurship skills.
Courses are free, part-time, and are at certificate, degree and postgraduate level.
Announcing the 6,000 places today, Minister Quinn said: “The Government is committed, through the Action Plan for Jobs, to supporting business to create jobs and getting growth back into the economy.  Springboard is providing a dynamic pipeline of job-ready graduates with the skills and qualifications that the expanding growth sectors of our economy need.”
Over 3,500 people are due to graduate this month from the first round of Springboard programmes, which were put in place in 2011. 
“Not only do these graduates have up to date qualifications, they also have a wealth of experience and workforce skills to bring to an employer,” the Minister added. 
Minister Cannon said: “This Government is determined that, as the economy recovers, unemployed people will be supported to return to employment by accessing re-skilling opportunities appropriate to their needs.  An expansion of Springboard in 2012 is one of the commitments provided for in “Pathways to Work”. “
A number of changes to Springboard 2012 are also being introduced in response to feedback on last year’s first phase of Springboard.  
The eligibility criteria have been expanded to include people who were previously self-employed and people in receipt of an extended number of social welfare payments such as the Disability Allowance and the Carer’s Allowance.
A Freephone Guidance line 1800 303523 is also being put in place to assist people with course choices and applications. The HEA-funded Freephone line is being hosted in the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed.
The Springboard programme has been developed in close collaboration with enterprise and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. Funding is only available for programmes in areas of identified skills needs and which provide for an accredited qualification. Programmes will be available from higher certificate to post graduate degree levels.
IBEC Head of Education Policy, Tony Donohue, said: “IBEC is pleased to see a further roll out of Springboard places this year. Feedback from enterprise to-date has been very positive. IBEC is working with the HEA to support the 3,500+ graduates who are due to complete the programme this month, as well as promoting awareness in enterprise sectors of the benefits of the overall Springboard initiative.”