Education and training supports
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.
The online portal therightcourse has information on courses and how you can access them, supports available and information if you are on a social welfare payment.
eCollege and COVID-19
eCollege is temporarily offering its courses free of charge in digital, ICT and business skills with certification, if you have been affected by COVID-19 restriction measures.
You can apply to eCollege, if you are aged over 18 years and:
- You are already doing a FET course
- You have recently become unemployed or had your hours cut due to COVID restrictions
- You want to upskill or reskill
Education and training supports
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 Experience Programme (WPEP): offers 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 period. If you qualify, you will be paid a weekly WPEP allowance.
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.
Skillnet Ireland: enables groups of private sector companies to set up training networks to deliver a range of accredited and/or industry-recognised programmes. Skillnet Ireland offers some training to unemployed people. If you are unemployed you will not pay for this training.
Under the ReBound initiative, Skillsnet Ireland provides mentoring and support to small and medium enterprises implementing the ‘Return to Work Safely’ Protocol during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
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.
Department of Justice 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.
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.
FÁS, SOLAS and ETBs
In 2014, FÁS was dissolved and some of its functions were transferred to the further education and training authority, SOLAS.
The FÁS training division transfered to the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which replaced VECs.