It’s been a difficult couple of years for the global job market, with Covid-19 having a considerable impact. As we move out of the pandemic, people who lost their employment due to the novel coronavirus or who are looking to move into a new career may need help to upskill or retrain. Many more are simply seeking work for the first time.
If you are looking for an opportunity to improve your qualifications and employment potential, at Galway Business School in Ireland we have a number of part-time Springboard courses
designed to equip you with the skills you will need for that new job or exciting promotion in 2022.
What is a Springboard course: Definition
In short, Springboard is a government-backed initiative designed to help people improve their employment prospects.
As its title suggests, the course is meant to provide you with a boost: the added opportunity, skills and encouragement to attain promotion, change careers or even enter the job market for the very first time. The course is perfect if you wish to gain added impetus in your career, successfully attain promotion or change jobs, or if you need an important increase in ability and confidence as you start searching for employment, as they are also government funded training courses for the unemployed.
Springboard programmes are either recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or are aligned to the framework. They provide a choice of free and funded courses in higher education – typically certificate, degree and Master’s level – where you can upskill, requalify or simply improve your CV in order to target parts of Ireland’s economy that are growing and have increasing opportunities for employment. They are a fantastic option if you want to prepare for your future, and are an excellent stepping stone to further education.
Are Springboard courses free?
The great news is Springboard courses are open to you, whatever your employment status. The majority of courses are completely free, but there are variations depending on the level of module that you undertake and your employment status.
For example, if the course you want to take is on Level 6 of the NFQ it will be completely free of charge, whether you are employed or not. All funding will be met by the government.
If your course of choice sits on Levels 7, 8 or 9 and you are working, then you or your employer will have to pay 10% of the fee for you to enrol. However, if you are an unemployed applicant you can still join these courses for free – there are no fees for you.
There are two further differences. The first is for applicants in receipt of Working Family Payment (WFP) – if you are employed but receiving social welfare assistance upon commencement of your Level 7, 8 or 9 course, you do not have to pay the aforementioned 10% of funding. Second, whatever the NFQ course level, if you meet the criteria for ‘Unemployed’ or ‘Returner’ (i.e. a ‘homemaker’ returning to work after a lengthy period of childcare, for example) then your fees will be paid in full.
Can you do more than one Springboard course?
You are more than welcome to apply for more than one Springboard course. In fact, you are allowed to apply for a maximum of ten courses simultaneously! What is important for you to remember is that there is a difference between applying for and actually taking a course, and there are restrictions in relation to the number you can participate in.
For example, you cannot do a second Springboard course in the same academic year. An academic year runs from autumn – usually mid to late September – until the spring or early summer, often around June. If you completed a Springboard modular programme in the 2021/2022 academic year, you must wait until the 2022 to 2023 year or later to do another course, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.
You must also remember that you are only allowed to do a maximum of three Springboard courses during any five year period. Once you have reached this threshold you have to wait a further two years prior to applying for any more Springboard programmes.
And an important thing to note is that if you fail to finish two Springboard courses, you will no longer be eligible to apply for any future programmes. Even more importantly, if you have taken two Springboard modular courses and did not complete or pass the most recent one, you are also no longer eligible to apply again.
How can I qualify for a Springboard course?
People of diverse backgrounds and circumstances apply for Springboard courses in Ireland. If you’re employed, unemployed, in receipt of a qualifying welfare payment, looking to retrain or return to the workforce after a lengthy absence, or have just graduated from university and want to get your first job, you are welcome to submit an application.
You do, however, have to meet certain eligibility and academic entry requirements:
- You must live full time in Ireland
- You must meet the nationality and EU residency rules in accordance with the Springboard programme
- You must be in possession of a personal, valid PPS number
- You must have resided in the United Kingdom, the European Union, the European Economic Area, or Switzerland for a minimum of 3 out of the last 5 years
If you fit the criteria then course providers will welcome your application, but you must remember that Springboard programme places are limited in number, and frequently very popular. It should also be noted that if you are in receipt of a qualifying welfare payment, or have been unemployed for a considerable time period, or if you have never taken a Springboard course before, you will receive priority consideration for a place.