With 58,133 people on the Live Register in the border region in July, jobseekers in Donegal who lost their jobs during the recession and want to equip themselves with skills employers want now have an opportunity to boost their prospects by studying at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT).
Offered through the State-funded Springboard programme managed by the Higher Education Authority for the Department of Education & Skills, the places are free to those who qualify and the courses are delivered flexibly so that jobseekers retain their benefits and continue their search for employment.
The skills taught on the programmes have been specifically selected to match the current job market and concentrate on areas where there is existing and projected growth.
At LYIT, there are 78 places being provided for the current intake of Springboard students across six programmes starting during September with places currently still available on the Certificate in Digital Marketing & Business Skills; Minor Award in Wind Energy Technology (conversion course for wind turbine technicians) and Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation Management with Applied Research.
The employment record of those who’ve completed Springboard courses is particularly encouraging.
Jonathan O’Connor is a recent LYIT graduate from the Wind Energy Technology programme. Having first trained as an apprentice technician with a car dealership in Kerry, he commenced his skills conversion course in Letterkenny in 2013. After a stint on work placement at a site in Tipperary with ENERCON Wind Farm Services Ireland Ltd, he was hired by the turbine supplier and is currently working as an Installation Technician in Scotland.
“The opportunity to get the education and training I needed to work in a growth area like wind energy was too good to miss. It was particularly good to be able to get these extra skills in such a short space of time after completing my apprenticeship in the motor trade. I’m enjoying work now and there’s no doubt that Springboard at LYIT has helped me get started in a thriving industry.”
Paul Hannigan, President, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, said courses are tailored for people’s needs.
“As part of a wider drive to economic recovery and tackling the jobs crisis, we are pleased to work with Springboard in providing these very focused programmes that are tailored to help those who are out of work to keep their skills current and to make themselves very attractive to employers in areas where there are opportunities.
“All six of our Springboard courses are National Qualifications Authority of Ireland-accredited with two at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications; one at Level 8 and three at Level 9 so students who complete the programmes successfully will have a fully recognised qualification up to Masters level. Since its introduction in 2011, we’ve seen good interest in our Springboard courses and many of those who’ve completed them are now in employment in Donegal or elsewhere.”
Dr Mary-Liz Trant, Head of Skills and Enterprise Engagement, Higher Education Authority, added: “The HEA on behalf of the Dept of Education & Skills is delighted to work with higher education institutions like LYIT to provide education opportunities that support unemployed people in getting back to work. A particular feature of Springboard is that the courses we fund through the programme are all in disciplines where there are job opportunities and where employers tell us they have a skills shortage and anticipate further recruitment.
“For those out of work in Donegal and beyond, I would encourage them to visit www.springboardcourses.ieor free-phone 1800 303523 and check what’s on offer. The programme offers a great opportunity to quickly get the skills employers want but also to have a formal qualification that reflects what you have learned. In a competitive labour market, this can be the key.”