Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, that 6,100 new free higher education places are being made available to jobseekers as part of this year’s round of the Springboard programme.
“100 of those places are being made available in Athlone Institute of Technology across of range of specialties such as project management, green engineering, computing, polymer technology for medical devices and welding for advanced manufacturing.
“Springboard courses aim to help people who are without a job to get back into the workforce by giving them qualifications in expanding enterprise sectors. This is the fourth year of Springboard, which helps jobseekers to boost their skills so they can access employment in growing enterprise sectors, which are leading our economic recovery.
“Most courses are part-time, they are all free, and they generally allow participants to maintain their social welfare payments while they are completing the course. A number of courses are full-time one year ICT skills conversion courses; and successful applicants for these courses who are in receipt of a jobseekers payment can apply for the Back to Education Allowance.
“This year, work placements are being offered on almost every Springboard course because such placements are a really important way of improving employment prospects. The system is also being made more flexible, as you will no longer have to be long-term unemployed to be eligible.
“The Government recognises the need for our graduates and jobseekers to have the skills necessary for our new economy, which is based on enterprise and innovation, rather than the old economy which was overly reliant on construction and banking. Springboard specifically targets areas where there are job opportunities and growth, allowing students to gain awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level.
“I would encourage jobseekers in looking to upskill, to check out the range of local courses available at www.springboardcourses.ie.”