News and Views

UCC Springboard+ courses re-energise careers

1 Aug
(L-R) Dr Séamus Ó Tuama, Director of Adult Continuing Education at UCC and Maeve Ahern O'Neill, Personal Branding Consultant. Photo: Emmet Curtin.

Graduates of the Springboard+ adult education courses have their lives "transformed" by the skills and expertise they acquire over their year-long programme, according to Dr Séamus Ó Tuama, Director of Adult Continuing Education at UCC. 

Dr Ó Tuama says the Springboard+ initiative has helped countless people restart or re-energise their careers.

"I have seen graduates who have had their lives transformed, turning their lives around having been stuck in a rut. All of the students go on work placements and this helps boost their confidence. Employers also see people with talent who want to achieve things. Graduates get on the career ladder." 

Dr Ó Tuama says one of the great strengths of Springboard+ is that it helps a student to realise that they are just as competent, if not more competent, than their peers. 

"They are in a classroom of students and they think "I am as good as the person next to me." You have homemakers back doing courses where they may have lacked confidence in the past. People in employment use it in certain cases to refocus or re-energise their career. It reaches out to different cohorts of people."

Dr Ó Tuama stresses that Springboard+ combines academic expertise with an industry focus and that the UCC brand travels far and wide.

"The UCC brand is critically important. It is recognised globally. These are not watered- down or diluted courses. They are part-time, flexible programmes and crucially they are free which is, of course, a big plus for people.

Courses are open to homemakers, the unemployed or formerly self-employed. They are also open to people in employment who wish to do a course in the manufacturing sector or who wish to take an ICT conversion course. They are also accessible for people who already hold a Level 7 (Ordinary Degree) IT qualification who wish to upskill to a Level 8 IT qualification. 

Springboard+ offers free courses at certificate, degree and masters level leading to qualifications in areas where there are employment opportunities in the economy.  

Springboard+ is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF programme for employability, inclusion and learning 2014-2020.

150 places are available in seven different courses. To discuss course content, eligibility and the application process please call the Freephone Helpline 1800 303523. Alternatively log on to www.springboardcourses.ie

The closing date for applications is Friday, August 11, 2017.

Springboard+ Courses at UCC for 2017/18:

Course

National Framework Qualification (NFQ) Level

Certificate in Operator Development(Pharma Manufacturing)                                      

7

Certificate in Process and Chemical Engineering

7

Certificate in Procurement Management

8

Higher Diploma in Advanced Languages and Global Communication

8

MA in Digital Arts and Humanities

9

Postgraduate Certificate in (Bio)Pharma Processing

9

Postgraduate Certificate in Project Management

9

 

Case Study - Maeve Ahern O'Neill, Personal Branding Consultant

Maeve Ahern O'Neill graduated from college in the late 1990's with a marketing degree and had a successful career in the industry. 

However, after being made redundant during the downturn in the economy she spent several years as a homemaker to her two daughters Orla and Danielle.

In 2014 Maeve decided to upskill and she signed up for the Springboard Masters in Digital Arts and Humanities. She admits she felt daunted at the prospect. The marketing world had changed in her absence and there was this whole social media world in which she didn’t have a formal qualification.

"I had been unemployed for a good while. The marketing community is small and nobody knew me.  I knew I had to upskill. Applicants were going in with digital marketing degrees and here I was having graduated back in 1999! It was a case of that unless you had a formal qualification you had no chance. Suddenly I was doing this course which was completely opened my eyes up to the digital world."

Maeve said she felt that employers were pre-judging her and assuming she would want a bigger salary because of her mortgage and kids. 

"They were looking at people younger and thinking they could pay them half the money. I had done JobBridge but nothing came of it. Then I heard of Springboard and I heard that it was free and I said: "Yes, please." I had gone to college in Dublin and it was always on my bucket list to go to college in UCC and here I was." 

Apart from the academic side, Maeve said she suddenly had one day a week where she was up at UCC talking to adults with shared interests

"I was making the children’s lunch, then my own and was then off to college where I talking to people over the age of 11! It was great meeting so many people with different personalities backgrounds and age groups. I got my confidence back after being unemployed for so long. There is nothing wrong with being a mum but doing something for yourself is amazing."

Maeve says she started to thrive when she was "surrounded by knowledge" at UCC. She did a module on teaching and learning through digital and it began to fire her imagination.

"I just started to think about how a person can maximise their digital footprint and how you can push yourself to be visible online. And I developed it into my thesis,  How to train people to use LinkedIn and Twitter and so on."

UCC facilitated Maeve to put on a workshop on developing your own personal brand online and it sold out almost instantly. 

She then received a ‘Back to Work’ allowance to start her own business. 

"I never thought I would be setting up my own business. Now I deliver workshops for Hewlett Packard and I lecture at UCC. I also have a lot of individual clients - from top CEO's down to job seekers.

One of Maeve's proudest moments was when her 11-year-old daughter, Orla, did a project on the person she admired most.

"She did it on me saying that "mommy had set up her own business." She brought in my business card. I am so delighted to show her that you can be a mother and have your own business. This course completely expanded my horizons. "

Maeve says her company "The Branding of Me" gives clients the opportunity to become managers of their own personal brand with the relevant skills and knowledge.

Maeve Ahern O'Neill can be contacted at thebrandingofme.ie

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 YN60

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