Free higher education courses available to Donegal people

Thousands of free and subsidised higher education places will be available to people in Donegal, as part of the 2022 Springboard+ and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives.

While a total of over 390 places across 16 courses have been allocated to ATU Donegal under both initiatives, 40% of all the courses nationwide will run entirely online, and 60% through blended learning – meaning people in Donegal will have access to hundreds of courses across the country.

The courses are open to people who are unemployed, or those who are in employment and are looking to upskill or change career.

A total of 11,600 places are being made available nationwide.

Courses are available across a number of sectors, with a particular focus on areas where there are skills shortages. This includes ICT; high-level manufacturing; financial services; medical devices; biopharma; entrepreneurship; and green skills.

Commenting today, Dr Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills and Engagement at the Higher Education Authority, said: “Springboard+ has gone from strength to strength over the past 11 years, and we are delighted to announce the latest cohort of courses available.

“The courses that are being made available address areas with critical skill shortages in the labour market – ultimately leading to qualifications that are in demand among employers.

“We are going through a time of great change in the jobs market – with factors such as remote working, and the cost of living forcing people to re-evaluate their careers.

“These programmes are an excellent opportunity for anyone who may be hoping to return to the workforce after taking some time out; for people who may be hoping to upskill or retrain in a new area; or anyone who is unemployed and wants to re-enter the workforce.

“With the blended and online learning options, there are hundreds of options available to the people of Donegal, which is vital in ensuring people in every corner of the country – whether they are in employment or returning to the workforces – can easily access courses.”

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and in the current economic climate, where new technologies and business practices are on the rise and issues such as climate change must be urgently addressed, lifelong learning is essential to ensure employability, meet societal needs and enable personal fulfillment.

“Upskilling is important for everyone in employment, regardless of their occupation or current skill levels. Springboard+ and the graduate conversion courses under the Human Capital Initiative are a key part of the government’s strategy to ensure we are planning for the future skills needs of our economy, which is critical to delivering on our ambitions as a nation.”

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course.

Helpline – 1800 303 523

Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2022 or HCI Pillar 1 courses will find full details on the approved courses on Applications are now open.

Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline will go live in early June.