Government announce an additional 17,000 Upskilling/Reskilling opportunities

By Gerard Walker
Future Jobs-Skills-Work Insights

Some 17,000 upskilling and reskilling training opportunities within Higher Education have been announced by the Government. This includes 11,100 new places for people seeking to upskill or reskill under the Springboard+ 2020 programme and an additional 5,900 places over three years under the Human Capital Initiative. It includes 2,130 places on both programmes from investment by the Government of an additional €10m in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Courses will be available in a wide range of skills areas, including management and leadership, business and finance, digital skills, data analytics, artificial intelligence, computing, cybersecurity, blockchain, biopharma, medical device technology, supply chain and logistics, sustainable energy, culinary skills, food science and soft skills. Courses under Springboard+ and the Human Capital Initiative were selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process.

Courses under Springboard+ 2020 and the Human Capital Initiative are being funded from the National Training Fund resourced by a levy on employers, and currently generating around €680m annually. The National Training Fund aims to raise the skill level of those in employment, to give jobseekers relevant skills, and to facilitate lifelong learning. Given the transformed economic and labour market conditions arising from COVID-19, the National Training Fund Advisory Group included a focus on providing relevant skills for those affected by the crisis underpinning their employability and access into sustainable and quality employment.

Springboard+ programmes provide free training to people who are unemployed, those looking to return to the workforce and persons in employment with an opportunity to upskill or reskill in areas of high enterprise skill demand needs. Courses are at NFQ Levels 6 - 9 and will be delivered by public and private higher education providers in a flexible format (blended learning, online/distance learning). They can be full-time or part-time and many include minor awards or special purposes awards. Courses offer the opportunity for work placement, project-based learning, or industry site visits where appropriate. They include opportunities for people across the country to access programmes in regions other than where they reside. Springboard courses will be open for applications on 25th June with most commencing this autumn.

The Human Capital Initiative was announced as part of Budget 2019 to provide additional capacity across the Higher Education Sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise. These courses offer incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. The courses are complementary to the Springboard+ offerings and are open to all, regardless of employment status. Those eligible for the Back To Education Allowance may undertake the courses free of charge, with all others pay 10% of the course fee.  

Information on the Springboard+ and Human Capital Initiative courses, including their eligibility criteria and application process can be found on the website:

Main Takeaways 
Against the background of rising numbers of unemployed persons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus will need to be on ramping up training and employment activation measures which improve the employability prospects of jobseekers and recent graduates, upgrading the skills capability of those at work most at risk, and addressing enterprise talent demand needs. The 17,000 upskilling/reskilling opportunities under the Springboard+ programme and the Human Capital Initiative form a valuable part of this response. 



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