Springboard Learning Courses Offer more Opportunities to Upskill in Tipperary Institute

Springboard, the recently announced Irish Government initiative which will provide almost 6,000 course places for the unemployed, has chosen BlueBrick.ie as the portal to manage all applications for the scheme.  LIT Tipperary (formerly Tipperary Institute) has been approved for a number of courses

BlueBrick.ie is the innovative website from the Institutes of Technology Ireland (IoTI) allowing users to compare courses conveniently and register online. The website is a unique tool which will allow members of the public who are interested in developing their career opportunities to find a course to best fit their schedule. Springboard, the recently announced Irish Government initiative which will provide almost 6,000 course places for the unemployed, has chosen BlueBrick.ie as the portal to manage all applications for the scheme. All information on courses is available centrally through the website on www.BlueBrick.ie, with easy to access, user friendly pages on frequently asked questions, and easy to navigate search functions to find a course to best suit the learner.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD, launched the Springboard initiative that will provide 6,000 new places on higher education programmes for unemployed people. The initiative is targeted at those who were previously working but lost their jobs or were made redundant and who, with some upskilling, could fill current or future job shortages.

Minister Quinn stated, “We have a very talented workforce, but the loss of employment in traditional sectors such as construction, manufacturing and retail has meant that many of these qualified and experienced people are now out of work. At the same time, we know that there are skills shortages in certain areas. By providing focused up-skilling and retraining programmes, such as those offered through Springboard, we can match those vacancies with a newly re-skilled workforce and get people back to work. To make it easier to apply for these places, a single web portal for all Springboard related activities is being used – BlueBrick.ie. It will operate as a kind of mini-CAO for the Springboard courses, but without the pressure of the points system.”

Springboard, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority, will allow those who undertake the courses to retain their benefits and if they find a job, they will still be permitted and encouraged to finish their course. A total of 34 institutions in both the public and private sector will offer programmes ranging from Certificates in Digital Marketing and in Supply Chain Management to Masters in Energy Management. Potential students will apply online though BlueBrick.ie, which is the central clearing system for part time courses.

Dr. Mark Glynn of BlueBrick.ie said “The BlueBrick.ie website, an initiative of the Institutes of Technology Ireland, has been growing from strength to strength in the last 18 months, and this success is borne out by this exciting partnership with the Springboard initiative. BlueBrick.ie offers the most convenient and user-friendly way to apply for courses online, and those applying for courses on the Springboard initiative can be confident that their applications are being handled with the highest level of efficiency by the BlueBrick.ie website.”

The website was developed by the 14 Institutes of Technology to fill the void that existed for supports and information for those who are interested in securing further qualifications on a flexible level. The site offers information on hundreds of courses in various formats, including online courses, distance learning, or classroom, all of which are flexible, thereby allowing the user to find a course which will fit in with their lifestyle and availability. With demand extremely high among the public for access to further learning opportunities, the site will make it convenient to research courses to help build on existing qualifications and assist progress through career paths. The site includes information on hundreds of courses in areas such as engineering, science, business, management, technology, marketing and education.

The site has several key functions, all of which have been designed to be highly user-friendly. The search function allows visitors to simply enter their query on the home page, or alternatively the advanced search option allows a more specific search such as institution, learning method, or location. The comparison function allows visitors to save courses of interest to them, and compare them side-by-side, a crucial function to allow comparison of costs and duration of courses. Online application is a core feature of the site, allowing visitors to conveniently and speedily apply online for any of the courses available. A unique feature of BlueBrick.ie is the course recommendation system, which automatically generates recommendations for visitors which might be relevant to their needs which is generated through the use of various technologies.

Commenting on the success of the website, Dr. Richard Thorn, Director of Flexible Learning, IoTI, noted, “With such a challenging landscape still in existence for career development, BlueBrick.ie offers users a convenient way to research courses that will fit in with any time schedules. Our recent partnership with the HEA on the Springboard programme is a testament to the growing success of BlueBrick. It continues to go from strength to strength as more people evaluate their career options. We feel the reason for the continued success is that many individuals may feel that they have no way forward when considering their career options, and we encourage these people to ‘click the brick’ and see what courses are on offer through BlueBrick.ie.”

BlueBrick.ie was established by the Institutes of Technology Ireland as part of the HEA Strategic Innovation Fund project: Flexible Learning.

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