Free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for a number of courses at GMIT and NUI Galway under the Springboard+ 2021 and HCI Pillar 1 initiatives.
The free places are available to people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill.
The courses, which open for applications today, include a Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health Recovery, a Certificate in Applied Digital Skills and a Higher Diploma in Business Analytics.
Over 10,000 places are available through the initiatives across the country in 2021.
For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course.
“As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need,” said Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris.
“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,” said Minister Harris.
“Programmes in Climate/Sustainability and Energy which are central to the Programme for Government are also being funded.”
Dr. Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills and Engagement at the Higher Education Authority, said: “Springboard+ and HCI courses give people who are unemployed, those looking to return to work and people in employment a great opportunity to upskill or reskill – particularly in areas where there are skills shortages.
“We work closely with employers across the country to ensure that the courses that are on offer are in-line with industry needs and best practices.
“We are delighted that this year, 90% of courses will be delivered in a flexible manner – which will allow more people to engage with the courses which may have been inaccessible to them before, because of work or family commitments, or because of where they live.
“This means people from Galway can, effectively, participate in courses anywhere in Ireland – and vice versa.”