Date Uploaded: 28/02/2017
Free third-level courses are to be offered to homemakers for the first time to combat skills shortage in parts of the economy.
Up until now, thousands of free third-level courses have been directed mainly at unemployed people in need of upskilling to allow them to re-enter the labour market.
However, the Springboard+ programme is to be extended to homemakers and those already in employment who wish to upskill to avail of job opportunities in the biopharma and medical technology sector.
The Higher Education Authority, which manages Springboard+ on behalf of the Department of Education, has issued a competitive call to all higher education providers for provide courses aimed at plugging skills gaps.
Homemakers who are seeking to undertake courses in the biopharma sector with Springboard+ must – at a minimum – have completed the Leaving Cert.
Those who already have diplomas, degrees or even post-graduate qualification may also be eligible if they require additional upskilling or reskilling to re-enter employment.
These courses will also be extended to those currently in employment who wish to upskill or reskill to meet skills needs in this sector.
Last year, almost 6,000 full and part-time course were made available under the Springboard+ programme.
Almost half the places were on ICT courses, followed by entrepreneurship, international financial services and high-level manufacturing.
Springboard was launched in 2011 at a time of rapidly rising unemployment, with courses targeted at people who are jobless or in receipt of a social welfare payment.
In 2014, Springboard+ incorporated ICT skills conversion courses – some of which became open to applicants regardless of their employment status.
A document detailing the new courses notes the ICT and biopharma/med-tech sectors continue to grow with significant demand for skilled personnel across a range of areas.
In ICT, for example, there is continuing demand for skills in cybersecurity, data analytics and many other areas, across a range of industries.
The bio-pharma/med-tech sector is noting a particular need for technicians, a range of qualified engineers and skilled personnel equipped to perform quality assurance/validation and regulatory roles.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said Springboard+ has been particularly successful at giving people the skills to get back into the workforce, with 80 per cent of participants exiting the Live Register.
“This year we are expanding the programme to homemakers, and those in employment in the biopharma/med-tech sector to meet a specific emerging skills need,” he said.
“Given the success of this innovative programme to date I am hopeful that we will be in a position to expand the Springboard+ model in the years ahead.”
Journalist: Carl O'Brien