If you are unemployed, you may want to continue your education or take part in a training course to develop your skills and improve your chances of getting back to work.

Springboard provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed. Most Springboard courses are part-time, but there is an increasing number of full-time courses available to certain participants.

If Springboard doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.


Springboard provides places for unemployed people on a range of part-time courses from certificate to master's degree levels - Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Most of the courses last for one year or less.

Courses are offered in information and communications technology (ICT), the green economy, pharmaceuticals, and international financial services. Programmes are also available in cross-enterprise skills and international selling.

Most of the courses start in September. Details on courses available and eligibility are on springboardcourses.ie.

Who is eligible?

General rules

In general, in order to qualify for Springboard you must be unemployed, with a previous history of employment, and you must be actively seeking work and available to take up work.

There are also residency criteria for certain participants not getting a social welfare payment.

At the time of starting a Springboard course, you must either be getting a qualifying social welfare payment or be in one of the other eligible categories listed below. The qualifying social welfare payments are:

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Disability Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Farm Assist/Fish Assist
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension
  • Blind Pension
  • Deserted Wife’s Allowance.

You can also apply for Springboard if:

  • You were formerly self-employed, but are now unemployed and actively seeking work, even if you are not getting a social welfare payment
  • You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
  • You are signing for social insurance credits
  • You are a homemaker with a previous history of employment
  • You are in employment and wish to take a course in the manufacturing sector or an ICT Conversion course or upskill from your Level 7 (Ordinary Degree) IT qualification to a Level 8 IT qualification
  • You are unemployed or formerly self-employed (all courses are open to this category of applicants, with the exception of the two year part-time ICT conversion courses which are not open to those in receipt of a jobseeker-related payment)

You are also eligible for Springboard (with approval from a Department of Social Protection Facilitator) if you are on one of the following schemes or payments:

  • Community Employment
  • Rural Social Scheme
  • Tús
  • Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
  • Short-Term Enterprise Allowance.


If you take up a Springboard course, you can keep your existing social welfare payment if you continue to fulfil the conditions for the payment.

You do not have to pay any course fees or charges while you are unemployed.

If you take up a job while on a course, Springboard will also fund the fees for the full academic year. If your course extends into another academic year(s) the amount of fees payable will be a matter for your college to decide.

If you are getting a jobseeker’s payment and participating on a part-time Springboard course you will continue to get your jobseeker’s payment under the Part-Time Education Option (PTEO). If you are on a full-time Springboard course you will transfer to a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) - you must meet the qualifying criteria for BTEA.

If you have started a Springboard course and lose your qualifying social welfare payment you can continue on your course.

How to apply

To apply for a Springboard course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.

Further information

There are detailed Frequently Asked Questions on springboardcourses.ie. You can also contact Springboard on Freephone 1800 303 523.

Page edited: 14 June 2017