There are lots of ways to continue your education, further your training and acquire new skills.
If you are leaving school, unemployed or looking for your first job, or if you are looking to change direction in your career, you can choose from a large number of education and training programmes funded by SOLAS, the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), and various government departments and agencies. These offer a wide range of full-time and part-time options so you can choose the one that best suits your circumstances.
Eligibility conditions and training allowances vary widely from course to course, so you should check the details of each course carefully.
In addition to the options listed below, you may also be able to access education and training if you are involved in a youth group, a community group or some other form of voluntary activity. Ask the co-ordinator of the group in which you are active for information regarding education and training opportunities within that organisation.
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS): provides an opportunity to return to full-time education if you are an unemployed adult or getting certain social welfare payments. Courses are designed to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people and are particularly suitable if you have been out of school for some time.
Back to Education Programme: provides an opportunity to return to part-time or full-time education while continuing to get income supports such as the Back to Education Allowance or keep your social welfare payment. You must be getting a social welfare payment and meet certain other criteria.
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses: PLC courses are open to school-leavers and adult participants, offering a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience.
Further Education and Training (FET) courses: provide an opportunity to develop or upgrade your skills in the commercial and industrial sectors if you are unemployed or redundant. Most courses are free and you may get a Further Education and Training (FET) training allowance depending on your circumstances. If you are on a full-time course and you need childcare, you may qualify for a free childcare place under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme.
Work placement programme: offers work experience and you may be able to keep your social welfare payment.
JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme: provides work experience opportunities for unemployed people. It is aimed at people who have been either getting a jobseeker’s payment or signing for credits for at least 3 months. Participants in the scheme will be offered an internship of 6 or 9 months with a host organisation.
Springboard: provides free higher education places for unemployed people. You can keep your social welfare payment for as long are you are entitled to it while you are participating on a Springboard course.
Skills for Work: provides training and educational opportunities for those in part-time or full-time employment. It helps you to improve the basic skills you need in the workplace such as literacy, numeracy and IT skills. Skills for Work is delivered by the Educational and Training Boards.
Skillnets: enables groups of private sector companies to set up training networks to deliver a range of accredited and/or industry-recognised programmes. Skillnets networks offer some training to eligible unemployed people. If you are unemployed you will not pay for this training.
Youthreach: If you are between 15 and 20 years of age and have left school without any formal qualifications, the Youthreach programme will provide you with opportunities for basic education, personal development, vocational training and work experience.
FIT (Fastrack to IT): provides targeted information technology training for people who are getting certain social welfare payments or signing for credits. Courses include office administration, web design and programming, broadband communications and PC maintenance.
Momentum: provides education and training courses for long-term unemployed people. It includes education, work placement and support. You can keep your social welfare payment for as long are you are entitled to it while you are participating on a Momentum course. If you are on a full-time Momentum course and you need childcare, you may qualify for a free childcare place under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme.
Skills training with State agencies: Some State agencies offer a range of specialist courses in their particular commercial or industrial sectors. Some of these training courses are at third level and require you to have formal qualifications and to apply through the Central Applications Office as you would for any other third-level course.
Department of Justice and Equality workshops: If you are coming to education and training from the prison system or as an alternative to the prison system, you may find a suitable course under this scheme operated by the Department of Justice and Equality.
Night classes: Self-funded educational opportunities are available to you through a range of night courses organised by your local ETB and many colleges and universities.
Skillstowork.ie is a useful tool to find out which of the 4 initiatives - Springboard, Momentum, JobBridge and Skillnets - best suits you.
FÁS, SOLAS and ETBs
FÁS was dissolved and some of its functions were transferred to SOLAS. SOLAS the new further education and training authority was set up on 26 October 2013.
On 1 January 2014, the FÁS training division began its transfer to the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which replaced VECs. All training courses will have transferred to ETBs on 1 July 2014. If you are currently on a training course, you will not be affected by these changes.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.