The Higher Education Authority is implementing BlueBrick.ie as the central portal for its ‘Springboard’ initiative. This is part of the first phase of a new €20m multi-annual fund providing access to higher education and training opportunities to support unemployed people.
Springboard allows unemployed people to maximise their employment opportunities by learning new skills or improving their existing skills, by accessing part-time flexible higher education and training opportunities.
The eligibility of the programme requires the applicant to be unemployed and must have a National Framework of Qualifications award at Level 5 or a FETAC award at Level 6, with previous professional experience in areas such as manufacturing or construction. The programme is also open to applicants who have already attained a higher level NFQ Level 6 to 9 in other skills areas where additional upskilling or reskilling might be required in order to re-enter employment.
Participants in the programme who are already entitled to job-seekers payments will be able to maintain their job seeker’s allowance or job seeker’s benefit.
Springboard explains that subject to participants’ eligibility for these courses, they will not have to pay fees.
BlueBrick.ie includes a comprehensive programme catalogue, online application submission, management, tracking and reporting facilities. The HEA selected BlueBrick.ie as its central platform as it already offers many of the features required by the HEA to be delivered in the new portal.
Director of Flexible Learning at the institutes of technology, Dr Richard Thorn, commented, “BlueBrick.ie has always been focused on the user, and has seen its traffic rise tenfold as a result of its unique features. We welcome the decision of the HEA to choose BlueBrick.ie to manage the Springboard scheme, and we very much look forward to developing a productive partnership with them, along with providing an excellent online service to our users.”
Since its public launch by the institutes of technology in February 2010, BlueBrick.ie has registered more than 40,000 unique visitors to the site.
BlueBrick.ie will enable learners to access information on all Springboard programmes, and apply for approved programmes.