Are you eligible to apply for a Springboard course?
Springboard courses offer a fantastic opportunity to people who have lost their jobs. Jill Barrett examines the basic criteria that determine whether or not you can apply for one
To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course a person must:
•be unemployed for a period of at least 6 months prior to the course start date with a previous history of employment and
•be in receipt of one of the following payments from the Department of Social Protection :
•One Parent Family Payment
•be signing for social insurance contribution credits and
•be actively seeking employment
Under these criteria applicants will still be deemed unemployed if they are engaged in short-term working arrangements as long as they are also in receipt of a jobseekers payment from the Department of Social Protection.
To be eligible to apply for a post-graduate level Springboard qualification (National Framework of Qualifications Level 9) applicants must have completed their degree (NFQ Level 8) qualification at least three years in advance of the start date of the NFQ Level 9 course.
Springboard applicants must be unemployed for a minimum of six months and at the time of starting a Springboard course must be in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit or One Parent Family Payment or be signing for contribution credits. However, in calculating the qualifying period of 6 months unemployed, time in receipt of any of the following allowances will also be taken into account:
•Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)
•Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA)
•VTOS training allowance
•FÁS Training Allowance
For example, if an applicant is in receipt of a Jobseekers payment for only one month at the time of the start date of the course but immediately prior to this had been in receipt of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) for at least 5 months, the participant is eligible to apply for a Springboard place.
Successful applicants to any Springboard course must be able to demonstrate to the course provider that they have been in receipt of social welfare payments or have been signing on for credits for the required length of time. To do this applicants need to complete and submit a copy of a UP51b form with their acceptance. This can be downloaded from the "Am I eligible?" section of www.bluebrick.ie/springboard and applicants must get it signed or stamped by the Department of Social Protection.
If applicants want any of the payments under "Other qualifying Social Protection payments or education and training allowances" above to be considered as part of the qualifying criteria they are also required to complete and submit a SB611 form to the course provider when they accept any place offered. This also can be downloaded from the "Am I eligible?" section of www.bluebrick.ie/springboard This is a self-declaration form only and does not need to be signed or stamped by the Department of Social Protection.
Participation in the Springboard programme will not affect participants' social welfare payments where their entitlement to such a payment continues to exist. If successful in gaining a place on a course participants must continue to meet the conditions attached to these payments, including remaining available for work.
As Springboard funding is only available for part-time courses, participants will not be eligible for a Higher Education Grant or the Back to Education Allowance.
Springboard course providers have been asked to ensure that participants who return to employment before the course ends should be facilitated to gain the course award.
This means allowing participation on the course in as flexible a way as possible. If participants secure employment before the current academic year of the course ends they will not be required to pay fees for the remainder of that year. If the course duration goes beyond that year and participants wish to continue, fees will likely be payable and participants are advised at this point to seek more details from their course provider.
Irish Independent Supplement