Further education and training (FET) courses

What is further education and training (FET)?

Further education and training (FET) covers any education and training after second-level education (post-primary school) and up to third-level education (higher level education).

FET is for adults and young people aged over 16.

You can still participate in a FET course, if you left school and didn’t complete your second-level education.

FET can help you get new skills if you are:

  • Leaving school
  • Unemployed
  • Looking for your first job
  • Changing direction in your career

You can choose from a large number of FET courses and programmes.

FET includes apprenticeships, traineeships, Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses, as well as community education and adult literacy and numeracy skills.

Finding the right FET course

There is a wide range of further education and training (FET) courses available. You have the option of full-time courses or part-time courses.

Qualifax has a database of all further education courses. It also provides the information you need to make an informed choice about your education, training and career path. How to qualify and what training allowances are available vary from course to course, so check the details of each course carefully.

You can get also get more information on FET courses, how to access them and the financial supports available on the therightcourse website.

Help to find the right course

If you need help to find a FET course, you can contact the Adult Educational Guidance and Information Service.

This service is available to:

  • Everyone over 18
  • People over 16 who are not in full-time education.

The service will give priority to people who are unemployed.

You can get more information on returning to education.

Further education and training qualifications

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) allows the different levels qualifications to be compared. There are 10 Levels on the NFQ. FET courses are provided at Levels 1 to 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Progression to third-level education

If you have a qualification at NFQ Level 5 and Level 6, you can progress to third-level education with the Higher Education Links Scheme.

The Tertiary Education Programme is a new pathway to third level education. You start in a further education institution and progress to a higher education institution to complete a degree with the Tertiary Education Programme.

It is also possible to access third-level education as a mature student.

Supports to access education and training

There are a number of programmes that can support you to access further education and training.

If you are unemployed

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS): If you are an unemployed or getting certain social welfare payments VTOS can help you to return to full-time education. VTOS courses are particularly suitable if you have been unemployed or out of school for some time.

Back to Education Programme: This can help you to return to part-time or full-time education and keep your social welfare payment or get a Back to Education Allowance.

Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP): WPEP can provide you with work experience if you have never had a job or have lost your job. You must be getting a qualifying social welfare payment for a minimum time. If you qualify, you will get a weekly WPEP allowance.

Training Support Grant (TSG): TSG can help you access short-term training that is not immediately available from a State provider or that will help you get a job quickly. It is available to jobseekers and people getting certain other social welfare payments. All applications must be made to a case officer at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

FIT (Fastrack to IT) provides 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.

The Traineeship Programme provides training and work experience. The duration of the programme will depend on the your area of training. You may keep your social welfare payment or get a FET training allowance. To get a FET training allowance you must be entitled to a qualifying social welfare payment, such as Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.

Specific Skills Training allows you to learn new work-related skills. The courses on offer vary from centre to centre and from year to year with different levels of certification. The courses are run during the day and in the evenings. Priority on daytime courses is given to unemployed people. A day course is free to all unemployed people, even if you are not getting a social welfare payment. An evening course is not free unless you are getting a social welfare payment.

You may be able to keep your social welfare payment or get a FET training allowance if you are doing a day course. To get a FET training allowance you must be entitled to a qualifying social welfare payment, such as Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.

Local Training Initiative Programme (LTI) is for people who are unemployed and finding it difficult to get a job. It is for people aged 18 – 35. Courses are full-time and lead to major awards on the NFQ at levels 3, 4 and 5.

For younger people

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.

Community Training Centres (CTCs) are independent community-based organisations, which provide training and education for early school leavers, primarily aged between 16 and 21. Courses are generally for one year, full-time, and lead to major awards on the NFQ at levels 3 and 4.

Online learning

eCollege is the national online learning service for further education and training.

Learn with NALA can help you improve your reading, writing, maths and digital skills up to Level 3.

Access to higher education

Tertiary Education Programme: With this programme you start in a further education setting and progress to a higher education institution to complete a degree.

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. If you are working, only level 6 courses are free.

If you are working

Skills for Work can help you to improve the basic skills you need in the workplace such as literacy, numeracy and IT skills. It is delivered by the Educational and Training Boards for those in part-time or full-time employment.

Skillnet Ireland supports groups of private sector companies to set up training networks to deliver a range of accredited or industry-recognised programmes. Skillnet Ireland offers some training to unemployed people. If you are unemployed you will not pay for this training.

Financial supports

The financial supports available will depend on your situation.

There are a range of possible supports such as the Back to Education Programme and the Back to Education Allowance and training allowances.

You can find out more about financial supports available to you from your local Citizens Information Centre.

Page edited: 5 October 2023