Ministers Bruton and Halligan launch the latest Springboard+ offering of 5,825 free higher education places, including 699 new part-time two-year ICT conversion courses

Maura O'Shea

By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 15 June, 2016

Springboard+ 2016 is the latest offering of free part-time and full-time higher education places to provide reskilling and upskilling opportunities for up to 5,825 jobseekers. Springboard is designed to encourage a response by educational institutions to meet the emerging skill needs of enterprise. All courses approved for funding under Springboard+ are selected by an independent panel following a competitive tendering process.

Almost half the places (2,752) are on ICT courses reflecting the continuing demand for skills in this area. Skills for manufacturing are also significant (1,298) reflecting the strong performance of this sector. There are 180 courses, both full- and part-time, in 36 educational institutions across all of the regions.

Announcing the 5,825 free places Minister Bruton said:

Today’s announcement reflects a commitment in the Programme for Government to deliver a step change in our capacity to educate, develop, deploy and retain talent. The competitive tendering model used to select Springboard+ courses is a good one. I will be considering how this model, along with other incentives, can be developed and utilised to encourage further responses to skill needs and partnership between the third level sector and enterprise.

Springboard+ embodies the core ambition set out earlier in the year in the National Skills Strategy – to ensure that we have a system that is flexible; responsive to the needs of enterprise and adult learners; and that delivers the maximum impact for our public resources. 

I am delighted to announce that this year, the ICT Conversion courses will also be available to eligible participants on a pilot part-time, two year option. This is due to the continuing demand for high quality ICT graduates”.

In 2016, priority has been given to ICT, high-level manufacturing, entrepreneurship and international financial services. Also included are new courses in culinary skills in order to address emerging skills gaps in that area.

Minister Halligan underlined the importance of cooperation with industry. He noted that “the strong ties with enterprise are a key feature of Springboard+ programmes. All the courses available under the programme are in areas of identified skills needs based on industry input and guidance from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. This engagement with industry allows Springboard+ to help us in responding quickly to developing areas of skills needs.”

The 5,825 places now on offer represent a €28,634,030 investment from the National Training Fund and will equip jobseekers with new skills in sectors with good employment prospects. To date over €113 million has been allocated to Springboard from Exchequer funding, providing for over 33,000 places.

Springboard continues to demonstrate good employment outcomes. A recent survey of all Springboard graduates 2011 – 2015 indicates that within three to six months of completion of a Springboard course, 54% of respondents are employed or self-employed, with progression to employment increasing steadily over time. In addition, a survey of ICT Conversion Course graduates indicates that 75% of graduates are in employment within the same time scale. 95% of these graduates are employed in Ireland.
Springboard+ is co-funded by the European Union under the European Social Fund, as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Full details on Springboard+ together with the eligibility criteria, are available on

A Freephone Guidance line, run by the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) is available to offer advice on course choices and applications on 1800 303 523.

Note for Editors

  • Springboard is designed for people with a previous history of employment who many now need to change career paths to get back into sustainable employment.
  • Springboard was first launched as part of the Government’s Jobs Initiative in May 2011. Since then over 30,000 people have been supported to undertake higher education courses in areas of identified skills needs.
  • Springboard+ courses are selected by an expert industry and education panel.

Springboard+ 2016 selection panel:

Chairperson: Fergal Quinn, businessman, founder of Superquinn

Ray Bowe, Project Manager, Skills Unit, Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Ireland.

Charles Dolan, Senior Personnel Representative, Eli Lily; Chairman of Education and Skills Group at IBEC; President, Irish Science Teachers Association

Una Halligan, Chairperson, Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN)

Joe Hogan, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Openet

Niamh Mernagh, Educationalist, retired Senior Inspector for Guidance (Post-Primary) in the Department of Education and Skills

Tina Gannon, Enterprise Ireland

Cathy Holahan, Enterprise Ireland

All courses are offered for a maximum of 12 months and are based on identified current or future skills need within the economy. Participants who complete these courses will be awarded a higher education of training award at Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).


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 or be signing for credits or be previously self-employed.

Applicants for full-time or part-time ICT Conversion Courses do not need to be unemployed to be eligible for the course, but they must hold a Level 8 qualification and can demonstrate the capacity to undertake an intensive programme of study and work experience.

Applications for Springboard programmes are managed through a central online information and applications system. Full details of available courses and the eligibility criteria can be found on the website:

More: ICT courses, Job Seekers, Minister Halligan, Springboard+

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