Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is available to you if you are over 21 years old and have been receiving a social welfare payment for the last six months. Time spent on Jobseekers, One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance and Invalidity Pension can count towards the six months needed to qualify. The VTOS scheme is designed to offer you training that will help you gain employment or pursue further education or training in the future.
The courses are up to two years in duration but may be shorter. The hours are full time, usually around thirty hours per week. Many of these courses are certified at QQI levels 3, 4, 5 and 6. You can also study for your Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate and there is a wide choice of subjects and courses available. The college allocates which courses are eligible for VTOS. If you are in receipt of a social welfare payment, such as the One Parent Family Payment then you will continue to get your payment in the normal way.
If you gain a VTOS place then you can hold onto the secondary benefits such as Rent Supplement, HAP, Fuel Allowance and your medical card while you are on VTOS. VTOS courses do not have fees and you will also have access to free books and materials at the start of the course. There may also be a small allowance for a meal and travel during the course.
In terms of childcare, subsidies may be available under the National Childcare Scheme. The usual procedure when you apply for a place on the course is that you also apply for a VTOS place by completing a VTOS application. It is often just before the start of the academic year, so usually September, before you will be informed of whether you have a VTOS place.