9,000 free third-level courses to help workers adjust to digitised workplace

Employed people eligible for courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and virtual reality

Minister for Education Joe McHugh and  Minister of State for Training John Halligan at the launch of the Springboard+ 2019 programme outside Government Buildings.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh and Minister of State for Training John Halligan at the launch of the Springboard+ 2019 programme outside Government Buildings.


Thousands of free or subsidised upskilling course places are being offered to workers seeking to future-proof their skills in areas impacted by digital technology.

More than 9,000 courses, ranging from certificate to masters level, will be available in the coming academic year in key areas such as digital skills, soft skills, management and leadership and the workplace of the future.

Among the courses on offer through the State-funded Springboard+ programme include cutting-edge training in blockchain, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, virtual reality and smart factory technology.

They are typically taught on the premises of universities and institutes of technology or through online or distance learning.

The majority of courses commence next autumn, however there are a number of courses that start later in the year and in early 2020.

Employees, jobseekers or those returning to work may avail of the courses.

These course are free for for people who are unemployed, those who were previously self-employed and returning to the workforce.

Courses are also free for people in employment for certificate-level courses, while they must pay 10 per cent of the cost for degree or masters level courses, which is typically several hundred euro.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said these training programmes provide a great opportunity to upskill or reskill in areas in which employers need skilled workers.


“As technology evolves, it brings with it new ways of doing business and new economic opportunities,” he said.

“The Government recognises that it is essential that people in employment have the opportunity to keep pace with these advances.”

The 9,000-plus places on offer under Springboard+ 2019 represents an investment of more than €30m.

This is drawn from the National Training Fund - a levy on employers - along wityh funding from the European.

Candidates who wish to participate in the programme can find full details of approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website (springboardcourses.ie ).

The Springboard+ initiative has until recently been targeted mainly at unemployed people to help them to re-enter the labour market.

With jobless rates falling, courses are now being made available to all people irrespective of their employment status.

Springboard, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education, began in 2011 as part of the Government’s jobs initiative.

These courses form part of a wider strategy to boost numbers taking part in lifelong learning

Courses are not all at full award at each level and may involve minor awards or special purposes awards.

All courses have been required to provide job-readiness training and most offer the opportunity for work placement, project-based learning or industry site visits where appropriate.

The courses approved for funding were selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process.

In particular, courses with a proven track record in getting people back into employment were recommended for funding.