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Want to study for free at NCI? Here's how it all works - and what to know before you apply

NCI’s staff and former students share the ins and outs of the Springboard+ initiative.

Journal Media Studio / YouTube

RETURNING TO STUDY, whether it’s to change career or upskill, can open a wide range of doors. But logistically, it can throw up some obstacles too: you may feel you don’t have the free time or money to dedicate to a year or two of lectures, tutorials and assignments.

If that sounds like you, a Springboard+ course might fit the bill.

Springboard+ is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020, and if you’re currently unemployed, the courses are offered free of charge.

There’s a 10% fee for anyone in employment, and many of the timetables feature exclusively evening or weekend sessions, making it doable to fit learning in around your job.

Springboard+ courses are designed to cover areas which typically have skills shortages. At NCI, technology and business topics take a front seat, with courses available in software development, data analytics and cyber security, plus new options in business analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology.

There’s a wide range to choose from, and there’s no requirement to already have tech or business skills under your belt, provided you have some passion and determination. That’s according to Orla O’Sullivan, a Careers Advisor at NCI, who has helped thousands of Springboard+ students to secure work placements and graduate roles:

We’ve had success with people coming from a variety of backgrounds who have gotten into their chosen industry. If you don’t have industry experience, that’s fine. For tech courses, you’ll need to do some extra work to get your coding skills up to scratch, but it’s very doable.

As with any new personal project, there’s a time commitment involved, but many students balance their Springboard+ course with a full-time or part-time job and still find the experience incredibly rewarding. Sam Cogan, a Computing lecturer at NCI, explains:

“There are some commitments you’ll have to make, like being present for classes each week, but if you can do that, you’re absolutely able for the course.”

For Gavin Bolger, a recent graduate of the initiative, the courses can also offer the chance to change career. He pivoted from working in gyms to working in telecommunications with a Springboard+ qualification in Data Analytics at NCI, and is now a graduate data scientist with Three Ireland:

In my experience, the course is definitely worth the effort. I’m now working in a career I’m really happy with and that challenges me every day.

Join NCI’s next Online Information Event on Saturday August 29 from 11am – 2pm, or take part in one of two sample online classes on Tuesday September 1 and Thursday September 3. Springboard+ is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

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