Saturday 24 March 2018

What's on offer - your guide to the colleges and courses

Jill Barrett

FROM Masters degrees in engineering to Higher Certificates in science and technology, there are over 200 fully funded part-time courses to choose from within the Springboard listing.

Whether you have completed a certificate course at Level 5 and want to progress to Level 6 or have an honours degree and want to move up to a postgraduate qualification, there is an option for you, provided you meet the application criteria. All courses are fully accredited and range from those giving you a qualification from NFO Level 6 to NFO Level 9.

In selecting the courses for inclusion in Springboard, the HEA has focused on areas of the economy where skills are most in need and where opportunities are growing. These include ICT, the green economy, pharmachemicals, food and beverages, international financial services. Courses are offered in locations throughout the country and by a wide range of education providers, from universities to Institutes of Technology (ITs) to independent training providers such as the Digital Skills Academy.

While most higher-education institutions, such as the National College of Ireland, offer a range of options across a number of HETAC levels, some training providers like the Irish Management Institute offer courses at one HETAC level only. Part-time attendance is the most common mode of study on offer but distance-learning options are also available, such as at Galway-Mayo IT and the Open University.

Level 6

This level of qualification mostly includes those referred to as certificates or higher certificates. Pursuing a course at this level will gear you towards entry-level positions within the workforce and/or may be used as a stepping stone from which to progress upwards through higher education.

Level 6 programmes are on offer across all sectors of the economy and include the Higher Certificate in Science in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Technology in Cork IT and the Higher Certificate in Science Pharmacy Technician course in Letterkenny IT. Those interested in enhancing their ICT skills at this level may opt for courses such as the Certificate in Creative Web Communication at Blanchardstown IT and the Certificate in IT systems in Carlow IT.

With green energy emerging as a significant growth area, those wishing to enhance their skills for this sector have a range of options to choose from at Level 6, including Athlone IT's Certificate in Renewable Heating Systems and Tipperary Institute's Certificate in Domestic Sustainable Energy.

Level 7

Springboard Level 7 HETAC qualifications are offered across a number of disciplines. Food- and beverage-related courses feature strongly in this category and include the Certificate in Supply Chain Management offered by University College Cork and the BBS in Procurement and Supply Chain Management offered by the Irish Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management. Other business-related courses at this level include those focusing on financial skills such as FSI's Career Plus and Waterford IT's BA in Financial Services.

A number of interesting courses in ICT also appear in the Level 7 selection, such as the intriguingly named My Digital Life offered by the Open University. The growing field of Cloud Computing appears across many HETAC levels in Springboard, including the Level 7 Diploma in IT Tallaght, which specialises in Cloud Application Development.

Level 8

An equally generous number of course offerings appear in the Level 8 selection. Those with an interest in developing their skills for engineering-related employment have a good range of options to choose from, including Specialist Diploma in Environmental Sustainability in NUI Galway and the Sigma Green Belt in Process Engineering offered by SQT Training. A good range of ICT-related courses are also on offer, such as Griffith College's Higher Diploma in Computing and Oscail's BSc in Information Technology.

The medical-device and pharmaceuticals sector is also well looked after at this level. Here you can choose from university offerings, such as NUI Galway's Specialist Diploma in Medical Device Science and Innopharma Labs' Upskilling for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industry. Enterprise development and online business trading is another field identified by Forfas as needing a lift.

Level 9

Those who have qualifications up to Level 8 may be interested in earning a postgraduate qualification at Level 9. Once again, courses are offered across a range of disciplines at this level. Business-and-enterprise focused courses are well represented in the postgraduate qualifications listing. These include Dublin City University's MBS in Strategic Procurement and the Institute of Public Administration's MSc in Business and Management.

Courses related to the green economy are a significant part of Dundalk IT's course selection at Level 9, including Certificates in Solar, Wind and Bio-Energy. With significant skills shortages identified in science, technology and ICT, it is unsurprising that postgraduate options in these areas feature highly in the Springboard listing, including those in Mathematics, Computing and Theoretical Physics offered by DIT.

Courses catering for skills in the food and beverage sector are offered by a number of providers, including the University of Limerick.

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