Almost 17,000 new free and subsidised places are to be made available to people wanting to upskill or reskill, the Government has announced.
There will be 11,074 new places on 332 courses under Springboard+ 2020 and 5,891 on 93 courses over three years for the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1.
An extra 2,129 places are available on both programmes as a result of a €10m investment by the Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The additional funding, combined with the new HCI Pillar 1 courses, has resulted in 7,600 more places being available over three years to those wanting to upskill or reskill compared to last year.
HCI Pillar 1 will provide specialisation and conversion courses for graduates in third level institutions.
Places are available on courses in a wide range of skills areas, including artificial intelligence, smart factory technology, sustainable energy, medical device technology and cybersecurity.Over 90% of the Springboard+ 2020 courses will be delivered in a more flexible format, such as blended learning and online or distance learning.
The flexible format will enable upskilling or reskilling to continue even in circumstances where social distancing continues to be required because of Covid-19.
Of the 17,000 new places, 13,000 will be available this year, with an additional 4,000 coming onstream over the next two years.
Springboard+ 2020 and HCI Pillar 1 represent an investment of €57.62m in the 2020/21 academic year from the National Training Fund with co-funding from the EU. A further €52.48m will be provided for HCI Pillar 1 in subsequent years.
Courses under both programmes were selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process.