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Welcome to SkillsDirect

Welcome to SkillsDirect the online system for submitting Springboard+ (Springboard and ICT Skills Conversion) course proposals. The system has been developed to make it easier for prospective providers to submit and manage their course proposals. SkillsDirect features a fully online, paperless approach to the submission of course proposals.

Springboard+ is a fully secure system, hosted by HEANet.

The Call for Proposals documentation for Springboard+ is available through this website (see Call Documents, in the menu, top right) and has also been published on www.hea.ie

To submit a course proposal, you are required to register on this web system. As part of registration you will be asked to input information on your college, and contact details. Please note that user registration for the 2020 proposal submission systems do not carry through for 2021 and such users are required to register again.

The system will open for applications during the week of 25th January.

The deadline for submission of course proposals for Springboard+ (Springboard and ICT Skills Conversion) is 13.00hrs, Thursday 11th of March 2021. The online application system will not accept proposals submitted after this deadline

In advance of preparing proposals for submission we ask that you familiarise yourself with the Call requirements.

Click here to read the Call requirements and to Register

Springboard+ Call requirements

Springboard+ will support part-time courses of twelve months or less in duration which are provided by public, private and not-for profit higher education providers. Consideration will also be given to intensive, accelerated courses of 12 months or less in duration in all skills areas. ICT skills conversion courses will be supported via Springboard+; provision of such courses remains a priority as part of Government policy and to meet targets set in Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan.

Eligible courses must either:

  1. Lead to a higher education and training award that is included in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) at Levels 6 to 9, which is made by one of the following Irish awarding bodies:
    • Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), including combinations of modules from already validated programmes leading to a major award. (Important: Combinations should be submitted to QQI for approval prior to or at the same time as submission to Springboard to ensure adequate time for validation)
    • Institutes of Technology with delegated authority to make awards,
    • Universities,
    • Technological University Dublin (TUD),
    • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

    or

  2. Lead to a higher education and training award that is a comparable award based on recognition advice available from QQI. This criteria will be strictly enforced to safeguard learners and ensure that if they undertake a programme funded by the State through the Springboard+ Call the comparable NFQ level of that programme will be clear to the learner and can be confirmed by employers and education and training institutions for the purposes of employment and progression.

Collaborative proposals from two or more Providers will be considered for funding, including those who form part of regional clusters in higher education, where a skill need in a particular sector has been identified. A lead provider must, however, be clearly identified as part of the proposal and the proposal must adhere to all requirements regarding quality assurance and the making of awards. They will be responsible for the financial management and reporting of the programme.

As part of course proposals, Providers will be required to set out the teaching, learning and assessment methodologies that will be used to meet learner needs, including flexible approaches; practical application of learning; and study skills/return to learning components. Academic and student supports should also be referenced, including details of job readiness training and, where relevant, work placement/internship supports. Regarding entry and achievement of an award, it is expected that proactive Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) will be used by Course Providers. Details of each provider’s policy in this area will be required as part of course proposals. Arrangements to promote and raise awareness of Springboard+ course opportunities will also be required.

To ensure that Springboard meets the needs of unemployed people with a range of previous education qualifications, providers are encouraged to propose courses which have been designed for participants with no previous higher education experience.

Springboard+ to 2020 was funded through the National Training Fund and formed part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020. The ESF are currently determining their programme for 2021 and beyond and although not confirmed it is likely that Springboard+ will once again form part of that programme. Until this has been confirmed it is advised that Providers retain all applicant eligibility material. The HEA will issue guidance on ESF protocols when we receive clarification on the fund. It is anticipated that this will be prior to the opening of the application process to eligible applicants.

Important note for courses requiring validation by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

  1. Springboard+ funding will be subject to the proposed course being validated by QQI.
  2. Springboard+ courses leading to QQI awards must be validated for the 2021/22 academic year before any learners are enrolled.
  3. The QQI validation process and criteria for proposed Springboard+ courses will be the same as for other kinds of programmes. This is to ensure that Springboard+ courses are of a comparable quality. Validation will normally be for five years
  4. Applications for validation must be submitted to QQI before proposed Springboard+ courses are marketed. Proposed programmes may be marketed to learners before determination of the application for validation but following acceptance by QQI of a completed application as long as it is made clear that the programmes are offered subject to being validated by QQI.
  5. The current version of the Programme Validation Manual for Programmes of HET and Apprenticeships (FET and HET) should be used for preparing applications.
  6. Proposed Springboard Courses must be submitted to QQI for validation in advance of submissions to Springboard+ for funding. This is to ensure adequate time for the QQI validation process to be completed as this can take up to 25 weeks though it will be expedited by QQI. For programmes that are designed exclusively for Springboard+ purposes, while initial screening of the submission may take place, QQI will only proceed with the validation process after they the QQI. This must be completed and be sent by the provider to the HEA by 1st September 2021.
  7. Written evidence that the course has received QQI validation must be submitted within 10 days of receipt of same from the QQI.

I have read and understood the requirements governing course proposals

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