Over 250 places have been allocated to Waterford IT to provide higher education courses under this year’s Springboard+ initiative.
The government initiative – which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills – provides free courses for people who are unemployed, returning to work, or were previously self-employed.
For the first time this year, people in employment can also participate in Springboard+ by paying a small fee – just 10 per cent of normal course fees.
Springboard+ courses on offer in Waterford IT this year will include Biomedical Engineering, Digital Marketing, Economics and Finance, Construction Site Management and Pharmaceutical Technology.
Commenting at the launch of Springboard+ 2018, Dr. Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills and Engagement at the Higher Education Authority, said: “Springboard+ presents an exciting opportunity for people in Waterford and surrounding areas to reskill or upskill for little or no cost. Whether you’re working at the moment or unemployed, this is a great way to strengthen your CV, improve your skills and progress your career.”
Nationwide, over 8,000 places will be available on Springboard+ courses over the coming academic year, including courses focused on emerging employment sectors, such as Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The number of course-places has increased by 25 per cent since last year.
“One of the best things about this year’s Springboard+ programme is that 73 per cent of the courses offer flexible learning options. These include blended learning, e-learning and distance education options.
“This means people from Waterford can, effectively, participate in courses anywhere in Ireland – and vice versa. This level of flexibility is a key factor in enabling people in employment or returning to work to easily access courses.”
Waterford Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan said:
“It is crucial that we provide the unemployed with opportunities to best prepare themselves for today’s rapidly changing labour market, but it is equally important to ensure that those in employment are given the opportunity to upskill or cross skill and progress in their careers.
“One element of Springboard+ which I particularly welcome is the expansion of the scheme to include free courses to people who have a previous history of employment but have been out of the workplace for more than one year due to childcare or other caring obligations. There will also be a good mix of delivery modes of courses to ensure that all participants, whether unemployed, in employment or homemakers, will be able to avail of a suitable course. This is crucial, as many who take up these courses will be juggling their studies with family and work commitments.
“The speed of development of new technologies will inevitably affect the future workplace and there will be no escaping these changes. What is new and innovative today will be outdated in no time. It will be vital for employees to continue to upskill and reskill to keep up to date with the latest technologies. Springboard+ provides excellent opportunities to the unemployed and those in employment to upskill or reskill to keep pace with the advances in technology.”
Also commenting on the announcement, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, T.D. said: “Ireland’s economic bounceback has been achieved by many enterprises and workers who reinvented their business, but we have also seen nearly 50,000 people reinvent themselves by using Springboard to change career. This is still a very exiting pathway which we are now opening to those in employment and homemakers. There are now over 8,000 places on 245 courses across the country – a 25% increase on last year.”
Details of all Springboard+ courses available in Waterford and nationwide are available here. Guidance counsellors are also available to advise interested applicants through the free-phone Springboard+ helpline, 1800-303523.