Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme
What is the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)?
The Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) provides courses to improve your general level of education.
VTOS courses can help you to develop your skills and prepare you for employment, self-employment or further education and training.
You can apply for VTOS if you are over 21 years of age, unemployed and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least 6 months.
You may keep your social welfare payment or get a VTOS Allowance.
VTOS is run by the local Education and Training Boards and is aimed in particular at unemployed people who are early school-leavers.
What kinds of VTOS courses are available?
The courses range from basic education and training to advanced vocational training and there is a wide choice of subjects. The courses are full-time, about 30 hours a week (for example, 6 hours a day for 5 days) and can last up to 2 years.
Many courses lead to qualifications such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and awards at Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
How to qualify for VTOS
You may qualify for VTOS 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 Surviving 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.
* If you are claiming Illness Benefit, you should contact your local social welfare office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of your Illness Benefit payment.
Rates for VTOS
For people getting jobseeker's payments
In general, VTOS participants who move from jobseeker's payments get a VTOS training allowance at the maximum rate of the jobseeker's payment.
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 Social Protection (DSP). DSP will then notify the ETB of any changes to your VTOS training allowance.
People on Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs) who are getting VTOS allowances are not eligible for student support 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:
- Meal allowance
- Travel allowance
- Childcare supports for your child under the National Childcare Scheme
You can get more information about VTOS.
VTOS training allowances are not taxable.
How to apply for VTOS
You can apply for a place on a VTOS course through your local ETB.
Your local ETB will have the most up-to-date information about the qualifying conditions for VTOS courses.
The Qualifax website has a list of frequently asked questions about VTOS