The Springboard programme strategically targets funding of free part-time flexible higher education courses for unemployed and previously self-employed people in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities.
More than 10,000 people have been supported under the two rounds of Springboard that issued in 2011 and 2012. An additional 6,000 places are currently being rolled out under a third phase of the programme, which was launched on 21 June 2013. The new places are available on 204 courses in 38 different public and private higher education providers across the country.
All Springboard programmes are selected for funding by an independent panel with industry and educational expertise and must be in area of identified enterprise skills needs based on Expert Group on Future Skills Needs research and industry input. The 2013 courses focus on growth areas such as ICT and International Financial Services as well as on the skills needed for enterprise to trade internationally. Courses that address cross sectoral enterprise skills needs are also available in areas such as lean and quality systems and entrepreneurship.
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, which includes Disability Allowance, or be signing for credits or be previously self employed. It is open to any person with a disability who meets the eligibility criteria to apply for a place on a Springboard course. Further information on Springboard is available on the dedicated information and applications website: www.springboardcourses.ie. Information and advice is also available to prospective students at the Springboard freephone guidance service on 1800 303 523.