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Minister O'Keeffe announces details of 1,500 free college places for jobless workers

Date: 26 July 2009 

The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD, today (Sunday) announced details of 1,500 free part-time undergraduate college places for unemployed workers in September.

The new places, which will be on undergraduate certificate and degree-level programmes, span the sciences, business, engineering and technology sectors.

They're part of the Government's efforts to retrain and upskill the labour force which are being co-funded by Minister O'Keeffe's Department and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Announcing details of the move, Minister O'Keeffe said: 'Thirteen institutes of technology, four universities and the National College of Ireland are part of this initiative specifically aimed at upskilling and reskilling workers for jobs in the sectors of the economy considered key to tackling the recession and driving economic growth.

'The third-level sector has a critical role to play in helping unemployed workers develop the type of skills they need to get back into the labour force.

'Part-time courses, which will be of varying duration, are more suited to the circumstances of workers who are unemployed and want to be able to re-enter the labour force as soon as possible.

'Unemployed workers who want to apply for a place on one of these courses should contact the college directly.

'Applicants will be asked to confirm that they've a claim for a jobseeker's payment of at least six months or else provide a copy of form RP50 confirming they're entitled to statutory redundancy from their most recent employment. 

'They'll be entitled to retain their social welfare payments while on the course.

'Tuition fees will not be charged for these courses which will vary between one and four years in length.

'Students who get a job before their course finishes won't have to pay tuition costs for that academic year.

'However, we'd hope that they'd choose to finish their course even after getting a job,' said Minister O'Keeffe. 
Úna Halligan, Director of Government Affairs at Hewlett Packard, was on the evaluation panel that selected the courses.

Ms Halligan, who chairs the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, said she was impressed by the quality and relevance of colleges' proposals. 

'The selected programmes will meet identified enterprise skills needs across areas such as manufacturing and internationally traded services and emerging green technology industries.

'The courses will cover good manufacturing practice and technology, supply chain management, electronic and renewable energy engineering, environmental and sustainable energy systems, biopharmaceutical and healthcare science, information technology management, business information systems and financial services,' said Ms Halligan.

The Higher Education Authority and local FÁS and Department of Social and Family Affairs offices are providing further information.

Details of 1,000 part-time postgraduate diplomas and conversion programmes for unemployed workers will be published on the Higher Education Authority website next week.

Related Links

Breakdown of Courses by Institution.pdf (size 13.3 KB)