The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. together with the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan T.D. today issued a competitive call to all higher education providers for course proposals which will be funded under Springboard+ 2019.
Now in its ninth year, Springboard+ has to date provided 55,000 free higher education places, primarily to jobseekers in need of upskilling or reskilling to allow them to re-enter the labour market. €34.438 million has been allocated for Springboard+ 2019, which will provide for up to 9,000 places on a broad range of courses.
The call for proposals for 2019 puts a particular focus on four key areas, which have been deemed by government as being of critical importance at this time: digital skills, transversal skills, management and leadership skills and the workplace of the future, which includes emerging new technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
Speaking today Minister McHugh said “The skills required for many jobs are changing significantly as technology changes how we work. It is essential that at every stage of their working life people can access appropriate training to gain new and relevant skills. Springboard+ is a key part of the Government’s strategy to ensure we are planning for the future skills needs of our economy, which is critical to delivering on our ambitions as a nation.”
The call document also highlights the skills needs that may be required to respond to Brexit.
Last year, the eligibility criteria for Springboard+ was expanded to include all those in employment who wished to upskill or reskill to meet identified skills needs in the economy. This built on previous expansions of the programme to include returners, including homemakers and carers, and those in employment who wished to upskill or reskill to meet specific emerging skills needs in specific sectors.
Minister Halligan said “I am delighted that Springboard+ in 2019 will continue to have a dual focus of upskilling and reskilling people who remain out of the workforce and also a focus on upskilling those in employment. The further development of skilled workers remains central to our ability to respond to the changing world of work.”
As in previous years, Level 6 courses will remain free to all participants. Returners and those in receipt of certain allowances, including Jobseekers Benefit, will continue to be able to access courses free of charge. For employed participants on courses NFQ level 7 – 9, 90% of the course fee will continue to be funded by the Government, with participants required to contribute just 10% of the fee.
The initiative is funded through the National Training Fund and the European Social Fund.
Notes to Editor:
Springboard+ provides free and 90% funded full-time and part-time higher education courses in areas where there are identified skills needs and/or employment opportunities. Courses to date have been delivered in areas such ICT, Manufacturing which includes the biopharma sector, Construction, Entrepreneurship, Cross-Enterprise Skills, the Hospitality Sector and International Financial Services.
Springboard+ courses which are at level 6 (higher certificate) to level 9 (masters degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications, are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country.
Springboard+ incorporates the ICT skills conversion programme.
To be considered eligible for approval, Springboard+ courses must seek to address an identified current or future skills need. Each Springboard+ course is developed in close cooperation with industry, and a minimum of two separate industry representatives need to confirm that the skills needs being addressed by the course are valid for their industry. In addition, for the past number of years, Springboard+ has had a regional focus through the work of the Regional Skills Fora. Providers are asked to engage with their Regional Skills Forum Manager on the particular skills needs of their region. This enables them to highlight courses the address skills needs regionally that may not feature in national analysis of skills needs.
Course proposals must be submitted online via http://skillsdirect.hea.ie
The closing date for submission of proposals is 13.00 on Monday 25th February 2019.
Any queries on the call process for 2019 must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and responses will be made via email.
Decisions on proposals for funding will be made by a panel of experts with industry and educational expertise, supported by the HEA. An independent process auditor will oversee the assessment and selection process.
Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2019 will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website www.springboardcourses.ie during June 2019.
Springboard+ forms part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, the Action Plan for Education and the National Skills Strategy. The programme is funded through the National Training Fund and the European Social Fund.
The call document and the ICT conversion guidance document are available at www.hea.ie