Q1: What is the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)?

A: The VTOS Scheme provides a range of courses to help people who are unemployed re-enter the workforce.  The courses are full-time and are usually delivered over two academic years on a full-time basis of 30 hours per week.

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 Q2: What are the aims of VTOS?

A: The courses aim to help participants to improve their level of education, gain certification, develop their skills and prepare for employment, self-employment and further education and training.  Some examples include ICT, Art and Design, Business Administration, Childcare and Digital Media.  The courses lead to a range of awards across NFQ Levels.

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 Q3: What rules apply to qualify for the VTOS Scheme?

A: You may qualify for the VTOS scheme if you are aged 21 years or over and you are:

• Getting Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance or signing for credits for at least 6 months (156 days) or
• Getting One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit* or Invalidity Pension for at least 6 months (156 days) or
• Getting Blind Pension, Deserted Wife's Allowance/Benefit, Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, Widow's, Widower's or Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension or Prisoner's Wife's Allowance for at least 6 months (conditions may apply in the case of these payments) or
• A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of an eligible person 

• A person who received statutory redundancy but who has not been in receipt of a qualifying payment for the required period.

Periods spent on FET training courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period. 

* If you are claiming Illness Benefit, you should contact your local social welfare office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of your Illness Benefit payment. 

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  Q4:  What are the rates for people getting jobseeker's payments?

A: In general, VTOS participants who move from jobseeker's payments receive a VTOS training allowance at the same rate as their jobseeker's payment.

However. VTOS participants under 25 who move from an age-related reduced rate of Jobseeker's Allowance will get a maximum VTOS training rate of €208 per week. Any means participants have will be deducted from this rate.

Generally, your entitlement to a VTOS training allowance will not be reassessed if there is a change to your circumstances (including means).

VTOS training allowance and work: If you are returning to your course for a second year, you will continue to get your VTOS allowance during the summer months.  You can also take up full-time work during the summer months and your VTOS payment is not affected.

VTOS training allowance and dependants: If you want a dependent adult or child added to your payment you must notify the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).  DEASP will then notify the ETB of any changes to your VTOS training allowance.

Other supports

People on Post Leaving Certificate courses (PLC's) who are getting VTOS allowances are not eligible for student grants.  However, this does not affect any entitlement they may have to exemption from college fees or student contributions.

There are no fees for VTOS courses and you will get free books and materials at the start of the course.  Depending on your individual circumstances you may be eligible for the following:

VTOS training allowances are not taxable.

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  Q5: What will I gain from participating in VTOS?

A:  • A chance to continue your education and training.
     • A chance to develop new skills.
     • A chance to gain certification at a range of levels.
     • A chance to find good employment.

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  Q6: What VTOS courses are available to me?

A: To view VTOS courses on Qualifax click here or go to www.fetchcourses.ie 

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 Q7: What is VTOS Core and VTOS Dispersed?

A: You can participate in the VTOS scheme in one of the following ways; you can be either:

• a core VTOS student - that is, attending a VTOS centre or adult education centre or

• a dispersed VTOS student, usually attending a Post Leaving Certificate course in a Further Education College.

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