Ireland reveals 11,000 free courses in post-pandemic skills drive

Concerted effort to ensure that as Ireland emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic that people have the best career opportunities possible.

As many as 10,158 places on 294 courses under Springboard+ 2021 are available to people impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, targeted at unemployed, self-employed or returners to work.

In addition, a further 1,101 places on one and two-year ICT graduate conversion courses are also on offer under the initiative. 

“As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”

Springboard+ courses are at Level 6 (Certificate) to Level 9 (Masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country.

Human capital

Now in its tenth year, over 75,000 people have benefitted from the programme to date. The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority, on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Funding is allocated to Springboard+ from the National Training Fund (NTF) on an annual basis, with over €290m of funding provided since it commenced in 2011. 

In addition, 1,869 courses will be funded for graduates under The Human Capital Initiative (HCI). The initiative provides additional capacity across the Higher Education Sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise. Graduate Conversion Programmes under the HCI offer incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

Approval has already been granted for courses under HCI Pillar 1 to run for the 2021/22 academic year, as part of the approval process last year. 1,869 places will be funded on 78 courses in 2021/22.

“As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD.

“Springboard+ and the graduate conversion courses under the Human Capital Initiative provide a targeted response to skills needs, enabling people to upskill and reskill in areas of critical importance which have come to the fore as a result of Covid-19, including Cybersecurity, Virtual Reality, Health Innovation, and Logistics.

“Programmes in Climate/Sustainability and Energy which are central to the Programme for Government are also being funded.”

Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2021 or HCI Pillar 1 courses will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website

Applications will open on Wednesday 16th June, and a helpline for applicants will be available on 1800 303523.

“As Springboard+ reaches its 10th year, we celebrate our 75,000 learners who have upskilled or reskilled to improve their career opportunities or who have simply taken their first steps towards re-entering the workforce after some time away,” said Alan Wall, CEO of the Higher Education Authority.

“We also celebrate the work of our higher education institutions collaborating with Enterprise in contributing to Ireland’s life-ling learning agenda and meeting Ireland’s national and regional skills needs.”

By John Kennedy (

Published: 15 June 2021