Going Back to Education
The Department of Social Protection provides a wide range of second chance education opportunities for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities. FÁS Employment services and employment programmes are now part of the Department of Social Protection and will continue to provide training opportunities in 2012. You can view these upskilling programmes below.
In the new programme for government the Pathways to Work approach was set out. Its aim is to build on existing Government policies to ensure that as many new job opportunities as possible are filled by those on the Live Register. Provision is being made for some 457,400 places. Pathways to Work also contains details of job placement, work experience and back to education supports for over 85,000 beneficiaries through the Department of Social Protection.
Pathways to Work sets out the mechanism through which supports will be made available to those that are unemployed. People will be referred to education, training or Department of Social Protection supports as appropriate. The Department's aims to raise educational and skills level among the long term unemployed, in order to help them to meet the requirements of the current labour market. Research indicates that there is a strong link between unemployment and educational attainment. The Back To Education Programmes were introduced to provide a comprehensive range of options from which an unemployed person can choose, or be directed to, the most appropriate for his/her needs. For a full list of schemes and to download forms click here.
The Springboard initiative in higher education offers free, part-time courses at certificate, degree and masters level, leading to qualifications that are in demand among employers. The majority of courses are one-year or less in duration, and Springboard is open to jobseekers who have a previous history of employment and believe that a focused, high-quality qualification is the key to getting back to work.
Springboard, is managed by the Higher Education Authority, and allows those who undertake the courses to retain their benefits and if they find a job, they will still be permitted and encouraged to finish their course.
In order to be eligible for Springboard 2013 you must be:
Unemployed with a previous history of employment and satisfy one of the following three criteria:
- be in receipt of one of the following payments from the Department of Social Protection:
Jobseeker’s Benefit/Jobseekers Allowance, One Parent Family, Disability Allowance
- Qualified Adults of Working Age Carers Allowance, Farm Assist/Fish Assist Widow(er)s, Contributory or Non-contributory Pension, Blind Pension, Deserted Wives Allowance,
There is no requirement to be in receipt of a payment for a particular period of time prior to the commencement of the programme.
- Participants in receipt of an eligible payment at the time the Springboard course commences are eligible to apply for a place on that course. However, providers will be required to give priority to applications from people who are long term unemployed
be signing for social insurance contribution credits or be previously self-employed and be actively seeking employment.
- People participating in the Community Employment Scheme; the Rural Social Scheme; Tús; JobBridge or in receipt of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short Term Enterprise Allowance may apply for Springboard and, with the approval of a Department of Social Protection Facilitator, take up a Springboard course.
To participate in a NFQ Level 9 (Post Graduate) course, a period of at least one year must have elapsed since completing a full time undergraduate degree programme leading to a major award at level 8 on the NFQ.
*For the purposes of determining eligibility for Springboard the term unemployed also includes people who are on short term working and in receipt of a Jobseekers payment from the Department of Social Protection.
Through the Part-time Education Option (PTEO), jobseekers in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance who wish to pursue a part-time day or evening course of education may retain their payment subject to continuing to meet the eligibility conditions, including being available for and genuinely seeking work. If a payment is due to cease prior to the end of a course, payment cannot be extended past the due cessation date.
Participants in receipt of other forms of income support payment from the Department of Social Protection must contact the appropriate scheme area in that Department to confirm if they may retain such payments while on the programme. See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on www.springboardcourses.ie for more information.
Participants who meet the criteria for the JobBridge programme will be eligible for support under JobBridge. Further information on the JobBridge eligibility criteria is available at www.jobbridge.ie.
All courses are part-time, allowing you keep your social protection supports and making it easier for those with families and responsibilities. There is usually no additonal payments available for Springboard.
A total of 34 institutions in both the public and private sector offer programmes ranging from Certificates in Digital Marketing and in Supply Chain Management to Masters in Energy Management.
If you are interested you can apply online through Springboardcourses.ie which is the central clearing system for all part-time (including 458 non-Springboard) courses.
Springboard 2013 will provide free part-time higher education places to enable unemployed people to upskill and reskill in areas of identified skills needs where sustainable employment opportunities are expected to arise. To view current Springboard courses click here.
In a direct response to specific skills shortages for people with high-level ICT skills, the Department of Education and Skills published a joint Government–Industry ICT Action Plan aimed at building the supply of high-level ICT graduates (www.hea.ie/ictskills).
The 15 programmes on offer from Spring 2013 will be for NFQ Level 8 jobseekers with cognate/numerical skills and underlying aptitude for programming and there will be 769 places offered countrywide.
All courses are supported by the HEA and Department of Education and Skills which means the tuition fees normally associated with such programmes are waived. These programmes are also unique in that all have close industry involvement in their design and operation and include industry relevant projects and work placements which will leave graduates fully 'work ready' on completion.
To search for these courses click here.
UP to 6,500 new training places are being provided to help the long-term unemployed get back to work. You will be able to keep your unemployment payments while doing the new courses.
The new 'Momentum' programme will offer 62 free full and part time courses around the country in areas where there is a demand for skilled workers. These include digital media, food processing, medical devices and green energy.
Momentum will provide eligible jobseekers with access to a range of quality education and training projects, links to identified job vacancies and employers and NFQ certification. To see if you are eligible click here.
The Labour Market Activation Fund initiative was set up in 2010 and approximately 11,000 college places are provided under the scheme. Three-quarters of the available places are aimed at those with qualifications at or below Leaving Certificate level. Tuition fees will not be charged for these courses. Jobseekers who wish to apply for a place on one of these courses should contact the college directly.
To be eligible for a place on these training programmes jobseekers must be must be in receipt of an unemployment payment for a period of at least three consecutive months, or equivalent thereof. You will qualify to keep your payment for as long as you normally would.
Back to Education Allowance Scheme rules apply in the case of applicants pursuing full-time education courses (see scheme information below)
Any jobseeker who wishes to apply for one of these college places will need to supply a letter to the college confirming that they have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for at least 3 months. A form UP51 for this purpose is available at social welfare local offices.
The FIT initiative develops and promotes technology-based programmes and career development opportunities for job seekers who have become detached from the labour market in an increasingly knowledge-based economy.
FIT’s mission is to promote an inclusive Smart Economy by creating a fast track to marketable technical skills for those at risk of long term unemployment . It is the primary industry skills development initiative facilitating collaboration with government, education & training providers and disadvantaged communities to enable greater access to employment for marginalised job seekers.
FIT is an industry-led initiative which works in close collaboration with government departments and national education and training agencies, local development organisations and a host of community based organisations. Our primary partners in education and training include FÁS, VEC's, Third Level Institutions, Leargas, Leader Companies, Rapid Coordinators, Local Authorities and Employment Pacts.
To date, over 8,000 job seekers have completed FIT skills development programmes of which over 5,000 progressed into employment. 2,500 job seekers are currently participating in FIT programmes.
On a FIT course there are no costs and you keep your welfare entitlements. FIT courses will normally carry a training allowance. The training allowance given to an individual will depend on which training organisation is involved and the individuals' social welfare status. For training allowance rates click here. Those over 12 months unemployed and on Jobseekers Assistance /Jobseekers Benefit can also qualify for VTOS payment of €31.80.
To search FIT courses click here (please note: these are only some of the FIT courses actually available) You can contact FIT directly to find your nearest FIT course click here.
This initiative offered 2,500 part-time third-level places to jobseekers for courses starting in September 2009. The scheme is now closed to new entrants, but students already on the courses will be able to complete them.
An announcement of an extension of this initiative is expected shortly.
FÁS has increased the range of training options available to Job Seekers to assist their re-entry into the labour market. Courses, such as Specific Skills Training and Traineeships which lead to major awards on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) will continue to be offered. FÁS also offers a number of short courses (typically 2 modules) as well as evening courses, Online Courses and Blended Learning Courses which lead to component certification and/or industry recognised certification.
Clients can view information on Training Programmes, search for a course or discuss training options with an Employment Services Officer by contacting their local Employment Services Office or Training Centre.
Other sectoral training includes; the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and Safe Pass for those interested in construction and Screen Training Ireland for those seeking a career in the film industry.
The Local Training Initiative programme is a project-based training and work experience programme carried out in the local community run by local community groups. The programme allows local communities to carry out valuable and necessary projects of benefit to their communities, while at the same time training learners in areas related to the project work so that they can go on to gain employment or progress to further training.
To search FÁS courses and training programmes click here.
Skillnets is a state funded, enterprise-led support body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of training and upskilling as key elements in sustaining Ireland's national competitiveness. It supports and fund networks of enterprises to engage in training under the Training Networks Programme (TNP).
These networks, now referred to as 'Skillnets'. The 2012/13 Skillnets networks are providing training to job-seekers, who are training with those in employment. By training with those in employment, job-seekers can access networking opportunities and keep up to date with their sector while participating in relevant industry-specific training programmes.
To check your eligibility for skillsnet click here.
Please note: Unemployed trainees cannot be paid any training-related allowance by a network, member company or referral agency eg. FÁS or Local Employment Services
NB: Below is a list of schemes available for unemployed people (and in some cases those on low incomes) who wish to upskill through education and training opportunities:
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who wish to pursue an approved full-time second or third level course (and a limited number of post-graduate courses) of education in an approved college leading to a recognised qualification:
In order to qualify for the BTEA scheme it is necessary for a person to be:
- Attending a recognised course of study at second or third level study option
- Attending a full-time day course of study in a recognised college
- A specific age in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a period of time
- Must be in general commencing the first year of a course of study
- The course must be leading to a progression of qualifications
As well as the scheme payment, a €300.00 cost of education allowance is payable to all approved participants in the BTEA Scheme (including credits only cases). This allowance is payable at the beginning of each academic year.
For more information on the BTEA click here.
The Part-Time Education Option (PTEO) allows you to keep your Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit and attend a part-time day or evening course of education or training.
You must continue to meet the conditions for Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are offered work while on the course you will be expected to accept the job offer.
The Part-Time Education Option is not the same as the Back to Education Allowance or the Education, Training and Development Option.
There are no specific eligibility criteria for the PTEO. You can be any age and may be unemployed for any length of time before starting a part-time course of education. This scheme does not involve any special payment or allowance.
For further information click here.
Under the Education, Training and Development (ET&D) option of the Back To Education Programmes; a person may continue to receive (subject to conditions) his/her Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit while attending certain courses of education, training or development.
Note: unlike the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme, this option is not a stand alone scheme. Persons who qualify under the ET&D option continue to be paid Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit, as appropriate, must be available for employment for the duration of the course of education, training or development.
Courses which are not recognised under BTEA and which are being pursued at an institution which is funded wholly or partly by state agencies may be approved if they lead to improved employment prospects on completion.
A broad range of courses may be approved under the scheme including: personal development, literacy, general training and specific job skills courses.
Participants must be:
- At least 21 years of age or
- Aged between 18 and 20 and out of the formal education system for at least 2 years
- In receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit for at least 6 months
For further information click here.
In circumstances where a person receiving a relevant Social Welfare payment agrees to attend a specified short-term course of education, training or development that is initiated and organised by a Department Facilitator, s/he will be paid "out of pocket expenses".
This payment is in recognition of the fact that attendance on a specified course may entail expenses for those on a small budget. The payment towards costs i.e. meal and travel that participants may incur as a result of participation on a course of education, training and development.
To qualify for this, a person must be in receipt of a Social Welfare payments. A Qualified Adult Dependant may also qualify for the payment.
The course of education, training or development must be initiated and organised by a Facilitator through locally based service providers i.e. Vocational Education Committees, FÁS , HSE, Aontas, NALA etc. and should be up to 18 weeks (this can be extended to 26 weeks with approval)
For further information click here.
The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme is run by the Department of Education and Skills and operated through the VECs.
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.
The scheme 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 the course.
While on VTOS, you may get a small lunch allowance and may qualify for 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.
If you were getting one of the payments (or a combination of the payments) for 12 months or more immediately before you started the VTOS course, you can get an extra weekly training bonus of €31.80.
Note: receipients 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.
For further information on the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme VTOS, contact your local VEC.
Students attending full-time higher education undergraduate/postgraduate courses and full-time Post Leaving Certificate Courses (PLCs) can get financial support through the means-tested Student Grant Scheme.
Grant rates for qualifying students vary according to a number of factors, including household income, family size and whether the student's college is close to their permanent residence. This is quite a detailed application process so it is crucial that you apply as soon as possible!
The new online SUSI centralised system for processing grant application forms will be available from May 2012. To view the online application form click here.
The scheme is made up of 2 components - a maintenance grant and a fee grant. The maintenance grant is a contribution towards the student’s living costs, while the fee grant can cover any of the following 3 elements: tuition fees, students contribution and cost of essential field trips.
In general if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will also qualify for whatever elements of a fee grant apply to your situation.
If you are doing a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course and getting the BTEA or a VTOS allowance you are exempt from the new student participant charge (€200). You may have to pay a course charge for books, exam fees and other costs.
To apply for student grant click here.
Youthreach offers a flexible programme of education, vocational training and work experience for 15 to 20 year olds who have left school early without any formal qualifications. These courses are generally full-time, although part-time courses can be arranged and last from 1 to 2 years although they can be flexible, depending on the individuals needs.
A training allowance is paid to trainees, depending on age. The Youthreach programme is delivered through Centres for Education, Community Training Centres and Justice Workshops. A parallel programme to Youthreach for Travellers is delivered in Senior Traveller Training Centres.
For further information telephone 01 4020427 or visit www.youthreach.ie