17,000 new places to be made available for upskilling or reskilling

24 June 2020 

Government launches 17,000 free and subsidised higher education places on Springboard+ 2020 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister of State for Training Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan today announced almost 17,000 new places to be made available to people seeking to upskill or reskill.

13,000 places will commence in 2020, with the additional 4,000 places coming on stream over the remaining 2 years. This includes an additional 2,129 places for upskilling and reskilling.

This includes an additional 2,129 places on both programmes, as a result of investment by the Government of an additional €10m in response to the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • 11,074 places on 332 courses under Springboard+ 2020 
  • 5,891 places on 93 courses over three years for Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1.

Places are available on courses in a wide range of skills areas, including artificial intelligence, smart factory technology, sustainable energy, medical device technology and cybersecurity.

This additional funding, combined with the new HCI Pillar 1 courses leads to 7,600 more places available over three years to those who wish to upskill or reskill compared with 2019.

The National Training Fund Advisory Group has considered the principles and priorities of the National Training Fund (NTF) in light of the transformed economic and labour market landscape arising from COVID-19. These priorities were confirmed by the National Skills Council. Among these principles were:

  • the need for an immediate focus on providing relevant skills for those affected by the crisis underpinning their employability and access into sustainable and quality employment;
  • the need for focused and agile programmes consistent with the current priorities for skills provision.

Springboard+ has already experienced successful outcomes in these areas. To enable a skills-focused response to employment issues arising from the Covid-19 crisis, €10 million has been repurposed from HCI Pillar 3 to provide extra funding for upskilling and reskilling courses under Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1.

Minister McHugh said: “Springboard+ training programmes provide people who are unemployed, those looking to return to the workforce and those in employment with a great opportunity to upskill or reskill in areas in which employers need skilled workers. I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide additional places this year to enable an enhanced response to skills needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “The higher education sector has responded swiftly and effectively to the challenges that have arisen over recent months. The courses we are launching today will form a further response to the impacts of the global pandemic, providing upskilling and reskilling places for those who have been most affected. HCI Pillar 1 will provide specialisation and conversion courses for graduates to ensure that they have the skills most needed by employers today.”

Minister Halligan said: “I am pleased to see that over 90 per cent of the courses provided under Springboard+ 2020 will be delivered in a more flexible format. This will enable upskilling and reskilling even in circumstances where social distancing measures continue to be in place.”

Approval is being given for courses under HCI Pillar 1 to run for three academic years from 2020/21 to 2022/23. Courses are in specific areas of skills need, as identified by the Skills Identification Group as part of the HCI call development process.

  • 2,039 places will be funded on 79 courses in 2020/21
  • 1,900 places will be funded in each of 2021/22 and 2022/23.

HCI Pillar 1 courses will be delivered in all of the universities, 10 institutes of technology, and nine privately-run colleges.

Springboard+ 2020 and HCI Pillar 1 represent an investment of €57.62m in the 2020/21 academic year from the National Training Fund with co-funding from the European Union under the European Social Fund, as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. A further €52.48m will be provided for HCI pillar 1 in subsequent years. 

All courses under Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 were selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process. Courses are in areas that have been deemed by Government as being of critical importance: digital skills, soft skills, management and leadership, and the workplace of the future. Many courses focus on future proofing the skills of those in employment, particularly in roles that may be impacted by digitalisation.

Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2020 or HCI pillar 1 courses will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website www.springboardcourses.ie