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

A: VTOS consists of a range of full-time courses designed to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. It is offered by the 16 Education & Training Boards (ETBs) throughout the country.

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 Q2: What are the aims of VTOS?

A: To provide education and training opportunities for people in receipt of a range of social welfare payments and to prepare people to go to employment or to other learning opportunities leading to employment.

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 Q3: What does participating in a VTOS course involve?

A: Participants are required to attend 30 hours' course attendance per week (e.g. 6 hours per day for 5 days) is required. Courses can last up to two years. VTOS programmes offer a wide choice of subjects and learning activities. Certification is available at a range of levels, including Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and QQI awards at Levels 3 - 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications.

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 Q4: Am I eligible to join a VTOS course?

A: Yes, if you are:

• aged 21 or over and
• in receipt of a Jobseekers Allowance or Benefit or
• be signing for credits for at least six months or
• be a dependent spouse of an eligible person or
• in receipt of a One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit* or Invalidity Pension, for at least six months or

• in receipt of Blind Person's Pension, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Contributory/Non Contributory Pension for at least six months. Conditions may apply.

Periods spent on FAS Training Courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach Programmes or time in prison can count towards the six month qualifying period.

Illness Benefit*: Attendance on course subject to conditions. Contact your local ETB for further information. 

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  Q5:  What will VTOS cost me?

A: If you are currently getting a Job Seekers’ Allowance or a Job Seekers’ Benefit, you will instead get a training allowance at a rate equivalent to the maximum rate of your payment.

If you are  in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension, Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, Widow's/Widower's Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoner's Wife's Allowance you will continue to draw your  payment in the normal way from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

If you are signing for credits only you may qualify to participate in a VTOS course. You will not receive a training allowance. 

If you are the spouse/partner of a person in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit which includes an increase for the spouse/partner you may also qualify to join a VTOS course. However the spouse/partner will not qualify for payment in his/her own right while on VTOS.

You will/may receive a small lunch allowance and, depending on the distance between your home and the VTOS centre, you may be entitled to a travel allowance.

You may be given books and materials free of charge.

Childcare support may be available.


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  Q6: 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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  Q7: What VTOS courses are available to me?

A: To view VTOS courses click here.

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 Q8: What is VTOS Core and VTOS Dispersed?

A: Participation in VTOS is in two modes as follows:

• as a ‘core’ VTOS student participating in a group of up to twenty other VTOS students in a VTOS Centre or Adult Education Centre.

• as a ‘dispersed’ VTOS student participating in a group of students some of whom may be VTOS students and some of whom will be studying through other schemes/programmes. ‘Dispersed’ VTOS students generally attend a Further Education College or a Post-Leaving Certificate College.

In all cases the learning centre or college will be under the management of the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

 Q9: What is TUS and can I move directly from TUS to VTOS?

A: The Tús initiative is a community work placement scheme providing 5,000 short-term working opportunities for unemployed people since 2011. The work opportunities are to benefit the community and are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. The Tús programme is delivered by the Department of Social Protection.   Time spent in the TÚS programme counts for the purposes of the 156 day qualifying period required for VTOS and a person may move directly from TÚS to VTOS if that person was in receipt of one of the qualifying welfare payments immediately before or after commencement of the TÚS programme.

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