If you have left school without any formal qualifications, the Youthreach programme can provide you with opportunities for basic education, personal development, vocational training and work experience.
The programme is generally full-time, although part-time courses can be arranged. You can concentrate on a core training area of your choice but basic subjects, such as English, maths and life skills, are generally covered by all trainees.
Opportunities to improve literacy and numeracy are available at all Youthreach centres.
How Youthreach works
The course generally lasts from 1 to 2 years, although it can be flexible, depending on your individual needs. If you complete the basic training successfully, you will be awarded a Foundation Certification from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) or the Junior Certificate. Having completed a Foundation Programme, you may continue to a Progression Programme. This will give you the opportunity to progress to the Leaving Certificate Applied course or a higher-level QQI award or you can choose to continue other skills training, such as an apprenticeship course.
The courses take place in Youthreach centres managed by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and Community Training Centres. Generally, Youthreach centres are open for 35 hours per week (9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., Monday to Friday).
If you qualify for Youthreach, you may also be eligible for the Back to Education Initiative.
Education and Training Boards
Since 1 July 2013, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) replaced Vocational Educational Committees (VECs). All services provided by VECs will continue to be provided by ETBs. FÁS training centres have also transferred to ETBs.
The criteria you must meet to access the Youthreach programme depends on whether you apply to a Youthreach centre managed by an Education and Training Board (ETB) or a Community Training Centre.
ETB Youthreach programme
To be eligible for Youthreach provided by your local ETB, you should be between 15 and 20 years of age. You must be unemployed and an early school leaver without any vocational training and who has not attempted the Leaving Certificate. Some exceptions can be made to this rule, for example if you are a lone parent.
Community Training Centre Youthreach programme
To be eligible for Youthreach provided by your local Community Training Centre, you should be between 16 and 21 years of age. However, young people under the age of 25 who are disadvantaged and unemployed may attend the programme with agreement from SOLAS.
The training on offer varies from centre to centre, often depending on the facilities available. If you have an interest in a particular career, you should look around for a centre offering a suitable course rather than applying automatically to the centre nearest to you.
Courses are free and trainees aged over 16 receive a weekly allowance. You will get a travel allowance if you have to travel 5 km or more to the centre. You may also qualify for free childcare and a meal allowance - you should check with the centre.
From January 2022, weekly allowances are as follows:
|Trainee(s)||maximum payment per week|
|16 - 17 years||€45|
|18 years and over||€208.00 (with some exceptions)|
If you were getting a reduced age-related Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) before starting Youthreach any means that were deducted from your JA will also be deducted from your training allowance. This also applies to people getting a reduced age-related basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA).
If you are over 18 years of age and you are currently getting a social welfare payment of more than €208, you will continue to get the higher amount while you are on Youthreach as long as you are eligible.
You can take up part-time work while on Youthreach without it affecting your training allowance.
How to apply
Youthreach courses are held year-round and you can apply to join a course at any time.
Contact your local Community Training Centre and talk to staff about your training needs and interests. You can also contact your local employment services office or ETB. Staff members are available at these centres to help you with application forms if necessary. You can find contact details for your local Youthreach service.