D - Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
- What is the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)?
- How do I qualify?
- How do I apply?
- How is VTOS paid?
- Do I still 'sign on' in the smae way?
1. What is the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)?
The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme, which is run by the Department of Education and Skills, is operated through the ETBs. Sometimes courses can take as long as two years. They can lead to qualifications such as Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) certificates. The main objectives of the scheme are:
- to give unemployed people education and training opportunities that will help them find a job, and
- to prepare people to go to paid employment or to further educational opportunities leading to paid employment.
VTOS courses are free; some assistance with books and course materials may be provided.
Some ETBs run sample courses to help you decide on the most appropriate VTOS course to meet your needs. Contact your local ETB for more information.
2. How do I qualify?
You can qualify for VTOS if you are:
- aged at least 21
- getting Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit or signing for credits for at least six months
You can also qualify if you are getting, for at least six months:
- One-Parent Family Payment,
- Disability Allowance,
- Illness Benefit,
- Invalidity Pension,
- Blind Pension,
- Deserted Wife's Allowance,
- Deserted Wife's Benefit,
- Widow's, Widowers or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory or Non-Contributory Pension,
- Prisoners Wife's Allowance.
If you are getting one of these payments you must be able to show that you have not been engaged in paid employment for at least 6 months before you start the course.
Time spent on SOLAS training courses, Community Employment, Job Initiative or time in prison or Youthreach may count towards the six month qualifying period.
If you qualify for 'credited contributions', they will continue to be awarded while you are on the course. If you are signing for unemployment credits only, you may qualify to take part in the scheme but you will not get an allowance.
If you are getting an unemployment payment and you are getting an increase for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, they may also participate in VTOS. However, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant will not qualify for a payment in their own right while on VTOS but they may get a small lunch and travel allowance (paid by the ETB), where appropriate.
If you are getting Illness Benefit you must get permission from the Department before you start a VTOS course.
3. How do I apply?
Apply to your local ETB for a place on VTOS.
You must be getting one of the relevant Social Welfare payments for at least 6 months before you start the course.
As there may be some changes to the conditions for getting VTOS or the type of VTOS courses on offer, please contact your local ETB for the most up-to-date information.
4. How is VTOS paid?
If you are a new entrant on a social welfare payment, other than an age related jobseekers payment, who qualifies for VTOS, the weekly rate payable will be equal to your previous payment that actually qualified you for participation in the scheme. Where applicable, you may also qualify for increases in respect of a qualified adult and each qualified child.
If you are a new entrant under 26 years of age on an age related jobseekers payment, a new personal maximum rate of €160 applies. In cases where means exist, they will be assessed against the €160 rate.
You should contact this Department's Community Welfare Service to see how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.
For further information on the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme VTOS, contact your local ETB.
5. Do I still 'sign on' in the same way?
If you are registered as unemployed, you will not have to 'sign on' at your local Intreo Centre or your local Social Welfare Office while on the course.