With 58,133 people on the Live Register in the border region in July, jobseekers from Louth and the northeast who lost their jobs during the recession are boosting their prospects of returning to work by starting specially-designed third-level courses at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) this month.
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 – most of which started yesterday – are delivered flexibly, allowing 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.
The part-time Springboard-supported programmes getting underway at DkIT are Certificate in Business in Digital Marketing & Digital Media Management (Level 7); Certificate in 3D for Games (Level 7); Certificate in 2D and 3D Digital Animation Production (Level 7) and Diploma in Food & Agribusiness Excellence (Level 8).
Anton Barrett, Head of Lifelong Learning, DkIT, said: “The Springboard programmes offer a real ‘win-win’ in that the graduates are better equipped to secure sustainable employment while employers in Dundalk and the northeast have access to a larger talent pool who’ve acquired very relevant and up-to-date skills within a short space of time. All of the subjects covered on these courses align with the skills employers tell us they want from graduates so those who complete them are in a strong position to compete in the jobs market.
“As well as our indigenous firms, Dundalk has secured several large investments in the recent past from IDA Ireland client companies and DkIT is committed to helping meet the skills needs that those companies have so they can sustain and grow their operations here.”
Some of the best advocates for Springboard courses are those who’ve completed previous programmes.
Among those taking the first steps on Springboard at DkIT two years ago this month was Ann Osborne O’Hagan who – despite excellent qualifications – had found it difficult to secure full-time work as a secondary school teacher. Now pursuing a PhD at the Institute, Ann began the Higher Diploma in Computing in 2012 – “The whole process of applying for the course was very simple and I would recommend Springboard and DkIT to anyone who feels they could benefit from a further qualification. The programme has allowed me to upskill and to really understand current technology.”
Offering an employer viewpoint, Paddy Matthews, President, Dundalk Chamber, added: “Springboard brings hope for those out of work of an early return to gainful employment as the courses being offered are in areas where companies are hiring. Indeed, some employers in these sectors have challenges filling vacancies with skilled people so those who graduate from the Springboard courses at DkIT will be very well-placed to secure work in a growth area. This is a welcome, proactive response to the jobs crisis.”
Dr Mary-Liz Trant, Head of Skills and Enterprise Engagement, Higher Education Authority, said: “The HEA on behalf of the Dept of Education & Skills is delighted to work with higher education institutions like DkIT to provide education opportunities that support unemployed people in getting back to work. A feature of Springboard is that the courses we fund through the programme are 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 the northeast, I would encourage them to visit www.springboardcourses.ie
later in the year and check what’s on offer in future intakes. We also wish those starting courses this month every success with their studies. 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 make all the difference.”