Quick Eligibility Questionnaire

From June 2020 Springboard+ will offer over 11,000 free or subsidised places on 332 courses leading to awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level. The majority of courses are part-time for a maximum of 12 months and are open to all applicants; Employed, Unemployed, and Returners who meet the eligibility criteria at the time of course commencement.

New in 2020

From June 2020 Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 offers 5,891 places on 93 graduate conversion courses over three years. The courses are full time, for a period of between 12 and 18 months depending on the course and lead to a higher education award at levels 8 or 9.

Places are available on courses in a wide range of skills areas, including artificial intelligence, smart factory technology, sustainable energy, medical device technology and cybersecurity.

The following are eligible to apply for courses in 2020/21 academic year (subject to the applicant meeting all requirements, e.g. academic requirements):

Graduate with skills in growing sectors

All courses lead to qualifications in enterprise sectors which are growing and need skilled personnel, including information and communications technology (ICT); manufacturing; international financial services; for HCI Pillar 1 this includes artificial intelligence, smart factory technology, sustainable energy, medical device technology and cybersecurity, and key skills for enterprise to trade internationally. Qualifications are also available in cross-enterprise skills such as innovation, enterprise/entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and project management.

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Please note that documentation supporting applicant’s status will be required as part of the application process. Further proof confirming an applicant’s continued eligibility will also be required at the time of course commencement. See Am I Eligible For a Springboard+ Course? below.

Restrictions will apply to previous Springboard+ participants; see Guidelines on Previous Springboard+ participants for more details.

Keep your social protection supports

Most Springboard+ courses are part-time, enabling you to keep social protection supports. However, a number of the courses available are ICT Conversion courses, which can be one year full-time or two year part-time. HCI pillar 1 courses are full time and run between 12 and 18 months. In relation to the one-year full-time courses those who are in receipt of a Jobseekers payment and satisfy Department of Social Protection criteria of being in receipt of a payment for 9 of the previous 12 months can apply for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). In relation to the two-year part-time ICT Conversion courses, those who are in receipt of a Jobseekers payment, or a Farm Assist payment, or a Qualified Adults of Working Age payment are not eligible for these two-year courses. Please see Am I Eligible? for more details.

Springboard+ and HCI pillar 1 are managed by The Higher Education Authority on behalf of The Department of Education and Skills.

The following are eligible to apply for courses in 2020/21 academic year (subject to the applicant meeting all requirements, including academic requirements):

Returners

To be eligible as a Returner, an applicant must have been a Homemaker or on other caring duties or economically dependent on a partner or spouse for a minimum period of 9 of the previous 12 months. Returners may apply to all courses if they meet the nationality/visa requirement and residency criteria (Please see FAQs question 1). Course specific criteria may also apply.

People in employment

May apply to all courses if they meet the nationality/visa requirement and residency criteria. (Please see FAQs question 1).

The unemployed or formerly self-employed

May apply to all courses with the exception of the two-year part-time ICT conversion courses. Unemployed applicants will also be required to meet additional DEASP related criteria. They must have been in receipt of a recognised DEASP payment for 9 of the previous 12 months if they wish to participate on one-year full-time ICT Skills Conversion courses.

Please note that documentation supporting applicant’s status will be required as part of the application process. Further proof confirming an applicant’s continued eligibility will also be required at the time of course commencement. See Am I Eligible for a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 Course? below.

Restrictions will apply to previous Springboard+ participants in relation to Springboard+ courses; see Guidelines on Previous Springboard+ participants for more details

“In order to participate on a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course you must meet the eligibility requirements, be normally resident in the state at the time of course commencement and also hold a valid PPSN.”

The Employed

Applicants who are employed will need to meet the residency requirements, i.e. that the applicant has been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/UK/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to the programme.

This category of applicant will also be required to provide a copy of their most recent ‘Employment Detail Summary’ or other relevant revenue documentation.

A full set of Frequently Asked Questions for Springboard+ AND HCI Pillar 1 can be found here

The Unemployed

Be in receipt of one of the following payments from the Department of Social Protection:

  • Jobseekers Benefit
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • One Parent Family
  • Disability Allowance
  • Qualified Adults of Working Age
  • Carers Allowance
  • Farm Assist/Fish Assist
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-contributory Pension
  • Blind Pension
  • Deserted Wives Allowance

OR

Be signing for social insurance contribution credits

OR

Be previously self-employed in Ireland

AND

Be actively seeking employment

People participating in the Community Employment Scheme; the Rural Social Scheme; Tús or in receipt of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short Term Enterprise Allowance may apply for Springboard+ and, with the approval of a Department of Social Protection Case Officer, take up a Springboard+ course.

People in receipt of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) can apply for a Springboard part-time course (part-time courses less than one year in duration). The 10% fee will be waived for these applicants that are successful in their application and are enrolled as a participant on a Springboard part-time course. Applicants on the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) are not eligible for the two-year part-time ICT conversion courses.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme on 1st September 2020. The EWSS or TWSS are not eligible DEASP payments. Those who are in receipt of the wage subsidy are classed as employed and those eligibility criteria apply. Therefore, those in receipt of these payments will be required to pay 10% of the course fee when undertaking courses at Level 7 or above.

2019 graduates who have been in receipt of a social welfare payment and who are eligible to move onto the BTEA and retain their benefit, do not to pay 10% of the course fee.

2020 graduates will not be eligible to retain their benefit to do a full-time course if they have not been on the payment for 9 out of the previous 12 months. These applicants have to pay 10% of the course fee and would not be able to retain any benefit for the duration of the course.

HCI Pillar 1 / ICT Conversion Courses

If you are in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) at the point of application you will be required to transfer to a Jobseekers payment. The time on the PUP will satisfy the full 9-month requirement to qualify for Back To Education Allowance (BTEA). Applicants in this category should contact their INTREO office to discuss this change. Full-time ICT Conversion and HCI Pillar 1 courses are supported under the (BTEA).

For participants on part-time Springboard+ course there is no requirement to be in receipt of an eligible payment for a particular period of time prior to the commencement of the programme. Participants in receipt of an eligible payment at the time the Springboard+ course commences are eligible to apply for a place on that course. However, providers will be required to give priority to applications from people who are long term unemployed.

People participating in the Community Employment Scheme; the Rural Social Scheme; Tús or in receipt of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short Term Enterprise Allowance may apply for Springboard+ and, with the approval of a Department of Social Protection Case Officer, take up a Springboard+ course.

Returners

Returners are those who are not in receipt of a payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection but who have been out of the work environment for a number of years due to childcare or other caring obligations. They have a previous history of employment but may require upskilling, reskilling or cross-skilling to transition back to the workforce.

To be eligible the applicant must have been:

  • A Homemaker or on other caring duties for a minimum period of 9 of the previous 12 months prior to their application
  • Ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/UK/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to the programme
  • In addition, the applicant will need to provide supporting documentation to confirm their status as a Homemaker.
  • Applicants must swear a declaration before a Commissioner for attesting to their status. A form to complete this process is available here.

It should be noted that acceptance on to a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course does not confer any entitlement to DEASP payments or childcare supports.

Formerly Self-employed

To be eligible those who are formerly self-employed must provide a letter/statement from Revenue confirming that the applicant is no longer trading or a similar letter from the applicants (former) accountant should be sufficient.

Alternatively, you can swear a declaration stating that you are no longer self-employed.

Recent Graduates

One-year full-time and two-year part-time ICT Skills Conversion courses are open to recent graduates. However, to participate in an NFQ Level 9 (Post-Graduate) course, 2020 graduates will be required to pay 10% of the course fee.

For the purposes of determining eligibility for Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 the term unemployed also includes people who are on short term working and in receipt of a Jobseekers payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Through the Part-time Education Option (PTEO), jobseekers in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance who wish to pursue a part-time day or evening course of education may retain their payment subject to continuing to meet the eligibility conditions, including being available for and genuinely seeking work. If a payment is due to cease prior to the end of a course, payment cannot be extended past the due cessation date.

Further information on Springboard+ part-time courses and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection income support

Participation on a Springboard+ course will not confer any entitlement to receive an income support payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Participants who are in receipt of a Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection income support payment may be able to retain such payments. Participants should consult their INTREO office in this regard.

Through the Part-time Education Option (PTEO), jobseekers in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance who wish to pursue a part-time day or evening course of education may retain their payment subject to continuing to meet the eligibility conditions, including being available for and genuinely seeking work. If a payment is due to cease prior to the end of a course, payment cannot be extended past the due cessation date.

The PTEO will continue to apply when a participant is undertaking a work placement of less than 6 months duration that is a specific component of a Springboard+ course.

Prior to commencing a Springboard+ course participants in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance should contact their local social welfare office to make an application to retain their payment under the PTEO. The relevant Springboard+ PTEO 2020 form can be downloaded here.

The PTEO scheme does not involve any special payment. Signing-on arrangements continue to apply for PTEO claimants. Attendance on part-time courses is allowed on the clear understanding that availability for and genuinely seeking work opportunities must take precedence over course attendance, including attendance at any work placement component of a course, should a conflict arise.

Participants in receipt of other forms of income support payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection must contact the appropriate scheme area in that Department to confirm if they may retain such payments while on the course. See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on www.springboardcourses.ie for more information.

Further Information

For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions page here


To be eligible for an ICT skills conversion course a person must be suitably qualified, in line with the policy for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) of the higher education provider or be someone with sufficient relevant experiential learning.

For the one-year full-time ICT Conversion courses you may be eligible if you are in employment and meet the residency and nationality requirements. Unemployed applicants must be in receipt of a recognised DEASP payment from the Department of Social Protection for 9 of the previous 12 months.

Employed applicants may also be eligible for the two-year part-time ICT Conversion courses. If you are unemployed and in receipt of a Jobseekers payment (including Farm Assist and Qualified Adults of Working Age) you are not eligible for the two-year ICT Conversion courses. However, if you are in receipt of other social protection payments, e.g. One Parent Family or Disability Allowance, you may be eligible for the two-year part-time Conversion programmes.

Tuition fees are waived for all successful applicants on all courses at Level 6. Unemployed applicants and Returners are not required to pay for their course but Employed participants are expected to pay a 10% course fee contribution for courses at Levels 7, 8, & 9. The academic entry criteria for admission to courses funded through the initiative is determined by each participating higher education provider. However, it is essential that applicants assigned a place are capable of attaining the requisite (level 8) proficiency in high-level ICT skills.

Priority for long-term unemployed

In line with the Government priority to support people who are unemployed (in particular those who are unemployed for more than 12 months) to reskill in areas of emerging skills needs, where a provider receives more applications from suitably qualified candidates than there are places available, providers are asked to ensure that these places will be awarded to people who have been unemployed for the longest durations.

Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)

A person who is receipt of Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance for at least nine of the previous twelve months may qualify to retain their income support while participating on a one-year, full-time ICT skills conversion course. Eligible participants will transfer to a bespoke version of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). However, as stated above, please note that a person who is in receipt of a Jobseekers payment (including Farm Assist and Qualified Adults of Working Age), regardless of duration, is not eligible to apply for a place on two-year part-time Conversion courses.

Eligible DEASP clients who are accepted on a course should immediately contact their local social welfare office and submit a completed BTEA-Springboard+ ICT conversion 2020 state form which can be downloaded here. Participation on periods of work experience which are identified as an integral part of the course may also be pursued and supported under BTEA.

If you are in receipt of other forms of income support from DEASP such as the One Parent Family payment you should contact your local DEASP office to confirm if you are eligible to participate on an ICT conversion course and retain your income support.

Applicants who are previously self-employed and/or signing for social welfare credits are eligible to apply for a ICT skills conversion course but are not eligible for a payment under the BTEA scheme.

Those in receipt of the Covid-19 PUP may be eligible for the BTEA and should discuss this with their INTREO case officer.

Beneficiaries of prior reskilling

Applicants who have completed a government-funded training programme, such as a SOLAS course, may be eligible to apply for an ICT skills conversion course. However, two such courses cannot be pursued concurrently.

Further Information

For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions page here.