Irish higher education is taking the job market into their own hands, developing a program designed to create 6,000 new part-time higher education and training places for the unemployed.

The University of Limerick, University College Dublin, Dublin City University and the University College Cork have all joined forces to create opportunities for the unemployed, hoping to provide the education necessary to launch program participants into jobs.

The Springboard Initiative

Called the “Springboard Initiative,” the program was first announced in December 2010 by previous government officials. The initiative will be especially catered to the unemployed by offering access to free higher education courses and granting training while still allowing participants to receive government welfare.

Still, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch; the program will cost the participating universities an estimated 22 million pounds over the course of three years, 2 million pounds more than the original estimated costs.

Help for blue collar workers

Specifically, the program is targeted toward those with a history of employment in the fields of construction, manufacturing or other blue collar-level jobs that will not witness an increase in job availability once the recession ends.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn answered a recent parliamentary question by saying that the higher education fund program will also target individuals with a history of employment in higher level jobs that require additional skills to re-enter the workforce.

In an effort to keep up with the needs of the modern job market, technology education will be a major emphasis of the program. One-third of the universities offering courses and training on the topic, including specific courses on cloud computing at the Dublin Institute of Technology and a certificate in solar energy offered by Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Preparing for the future job market

To increase availability of such technology courses, most institutes of technology and many private colleges will offer classes on the topic, in addition to the four universities offering the bulk of the classes for the program.

Other areas of courses have been well researched and offered to increase potential for jobs: the program will also offer courses in the quickly-growing fields of green economy and food and beverage services.

Science, computing, engineering, bio-energy, sustainable plumbing and heating and food supply chain management are a few of the other specific certifications offered through the program.

Mainly offered on a year-long basis that is part-time or flexible in scheduling, the program is only available to the unemployed, those at a level five National Framework Award or those with a level six Fetac award.

The program will further promote employment by requiring that all participants continue to look for jobs while studying the courses, despite being able to receive continued government jobseeker’s benefits.

Registration information

To simplify the registration process, all courses will be listed together in a “CAO-style” format on one Web site for participants to enroll in the course of their choice, with a limit of one course per participant. Online applications can be found on

The initiative will be formally launched by Minister Quinn at the end of the week, according to the Irish Times.

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