Education and Training Boards (ETBs) replaced Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) and are run by the Department of Education and Skills.
Courses must be full time and can take as long as two years and lead to qualifications such as Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) certificates.
VTOS aims to give unemployed people education and training opportunities that will help them find a job, and to prepare people to go to paid employment or to further educational opportunities leading to paid employment.
If you are registered as unemployed, you will not have to 'sign on' at your local Social Welfare Office while on a VTOS course.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to a small lunch allowance and a travel allowance depending on how far you have to travel to the VTOS centre. You may also get some childcare support. The VTOS allowance is not means-tested, so you may work without it affecting your payment. Students on VTOS usually receive free books and materials at the start of their course. VTOS payments are made for a maximum of 2 years.
You can qualify for VTOS if you are:
- aged at least 21
- In receipt of any the following payments:
-One-Parent Family Payment
-Deserted Wife's Allowance
-Deserted Wife's Benefit
-Widow's or Widowers Non and Contributory Pensions
-Prisoners Wife's Allowance
- have not been engaged in paid employment for at least 6 months before you start the course.
Note: recipients of Illness Benefit must get permission from the Department to start a VTOS course.
If you are getting an unemployment payment and you are getting an increase for your spouse or partner, they may also participate in VTOS.