Frequently Asked Questions
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The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is a second chance education and training programme which provides courses of up to two years duration for unemployed people.
Am I Eligible for the VTOS?
If you are over 21 years of age, are unemployed and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least 6 months you can apply for the Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). This scheme provides a range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. It gives participants opportunities to improve their general level of education, gain certification, develop their skills and prepare for employment, self-employment and further education and training.
VTOS is operated through local Education and Training Boards and is aimed in particular at unemployed people who are early school-leavers.
What kinds of courses are available?
The courses range from basic education and training to advanced vocational training and there is a wide choice of subjects. The courses are full-time, about 30 hours a week (for example, 6 hours a day for 5 days) and can last up to 2 years. Many courses lead to qualifications such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and awards at Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. You can find a list of VTOS courses on the Qualifax website.
How to apply
You can participate in the VTOS scheme in one of the following ways; you can be either:
- A core VTOS student - that is, attending a VTOS centre or adult education centre or
- A dispersed VTOS student, usually attending a Post-Leaving Certificate course in a further education college.
There is a list of frequently asked questions about VTOS on the Qualifax website. Contact the VTOS co-ordinator at your local VTOS centre to find out more about the VTOS courses available.
If you don't know your local ETB you will find it on the Education and Training Boards Ireland website.
The Further Education and Training Course Hub (FETCH) is a website for adults, including early school leavers, in or out of work, to search for Further Education and Training courses. This includes full-time, part-time and online courses which are provided by a wide variety of schools, organisations and institutions. The website allows you to search for courses by keyword, location and category.
- Intreo, the point of contact for people who are unemployed, established by the Department of Social Protection has caseworkers available to inform you about upskilling and retraining options that you may be eligible for.
- The Adult Education Guidance Service based in your local Education and Training Board may also be able to assist you.
- fetchcourses.ie provides a full listing of all Further Education and Training courses available in Ireland. This includes full-time, part-time and online courses which are provided by a wide variety of schools, organisations and institutions.
- Further upskilling or education and training initiatives include Springboard, Momentum and the ICT conversion courses. Courses are offered at different times of the year, so you should visit their websites regularly for information.
- eCollege provide online courses for job ready individuals who require training to assist them to re-enter the labour market. Courses are available free of charge to unemployed clients or (for a fee) to employed individuals who wish to update their skills.
- www.qualifax.ie is the National Learner’s database of courses across the country. You can search for a course by subject, institution, qualification or location.
Special Needs Assistant Scheme
The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme supports teachers in meeting the care needs of children with special educational needs, arising from a disability. Almost 35,000 students with additional care needs, such as autism, are supported by more than 14,000 SNAs to attend school each day. There is one SNA for every 2.48 students accessing SNA support.
What is a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?
A SNA is a term used by the Department of Education and Skills to describe someone who works in primary or secondary school classrooms or special schools, assisting children with everyday practical tasks. This can include helping with activities like clothing, feeding, and mobility. It is not the role of the SNA to teach pupils or provide educational support, as SNAs are not qualified teachers. All pupils, particularly those with special educational needs, must be taught directly by a class teacher. However this year a review carried out by the National Council Special Education (NCSE) found that SNAs could play a greater role in helping students with their learning needs in the future. SNAs provide care support to children who are assessed as needing assistance to attend school. They are not appointed as a personal assistant to the individual child. SNAs are a school based resource and usually support a number of other children with care needs in the school.
How do I become a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?
The minimum qualification necessary for appointment as a Special Need Assistant is an award of Grade D (or pass) in Irish, English and Mathematics in the Intermediate Certificate/Junior Certificate or the Day Vocational Certificate Examination however more and more schools are seeking people with a certificate in Special Needs Assistant Training Combined Level 5 & 6. Students are required to do work experience during the course if they are not already working in the area. Students may also need to obtain Garda Vetting on commencement of the course. Formal training in areas such as first aid and health and safety can support an individual’s application to work as an SNA.
Where do I find courses?
The Education and Training Board (ETB) provide a range of courses in this area which provides the learner with knowledge, skills and competence to work in a special needs setting. To find courses offered in your local area visit www.fetchcourses.ie or you can search on the Association of Teachers’ Education Centres in Ireland.
How much does it cost?
Courses are full-time and part-time, with some full-time courses running through the academic year from September to June. The cost of completing the course can vary, depending on where you do the course. Courses offered through the Education and Training Board take into account individual financial circumstances for example, for those who are unemployed or on a medical card.
Where can I find a SNA Job?
School Boards of Managements are responsible for the recruitment and employment of all SNAs. Sometimes SNA vacancies are advertised locally or on one of the following websites:
- Any Education and Training Board website
- If you are unemployed then you may contact your local Employment Services / Intreo, the point of contact for people who are unemployed, established by the Department of Social Protection who will help to inform you about your options.
- The Adult Education Guidance Service in your local Education and Training Board may also be able to help you. Information Officers can provide you with lots of information about what is available within your local area. To find local contacts visit OneStepUp.ie or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.
www.fetchcourses.ie is a website for adults, including early school leavers, in or out of work, to search for Further Education and Training courses.
- CareersPortal which is an online resource, includes lots of articles and information for people who are in transition and looking for guidance.
What is Safe Pass?
- Safe Pass is a Health and Safety Awareness Training provided under the SOLAS Safe Pass Programme
- Construction workers must hold a valid Safe Pass Registration Card
- On completion of a Safe Pass course SOLAS give a registration card to those who successfully complete the course
- This card shows employers that the card holder has attended a formal course in health and safety awareness
Where do I find a course?
There are over 100 providers of Safe Pass courses listed on the SOLAS website. These providers offer public courses and courses specifically run for an employer/company.To find a list of course providers;
- Visit http://trs.solas.ie/
- Enter ‘Safe Pass’ into the search engine to find a list of providers
- For more information and contact details click on ‘Prog. Code’
How much does it cost?
The cost of a Safe Pass course is €100-€120. If you are unemployed SOLAS maybe able to provide support. Also your employer may be able to fund this training. There is further information on the SOLAS website here or call 01 5332310 / 01 533 2500.
- Education and Training Boards co-ordinate many of the courses happening in your area. Short courses catering to different interests ranging from languages, IT, yoga and creative writing are available depending on demand. You may have to pay a small fee to participate in one of these courses. You can search the Further Education and Training Course Hub to find courses www.fetchcourses.ie
- You should also look in your local community centre, Family Resource Centre or local area partnership as they may also organise courses at different times of the year. Your local library, local Active Retirement Association or Age Action may also provide you with informal and formal learning opportunities.
- You could also try volunteering. Volunteering often offers new, informal learning opportunities as well as the chance for you to share your skills with others. Visit http://www.volunteer.ie/ to find a volunteer centre near you.
- Remember that most courses begin recruiting in January and September each year, so keep an eye out for open days and opportunities on the One Step Up Calendar.
- Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are the main providers of education and training and offer Leaving Certificate courses in a number of ETB colleges. There are also a number of private colleges offering Leaving Certificate courses. You can search for courses on the online database of Further Education and Training Courses www.fetchcourses.ie
- Enrolment takes place from the beginning of August to mid-September each year, depending on the college. The cost of doing the Leaving Certificate varies. ETB colleges are the less expensive option, however check with your local ETB to see what exact costs are involved. If you choose a private college the cost is considerably higher.
- You should contact your local Adult Education Guidance Service based in the ETB if you are thinking of doing your Leaving Certificate. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Service click here.
- Many of the Education and Training Boards offer English for Speakers of other languages (ESOL) or English for Beginners classes. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Initiative or ETB visit OneStepUp.ie. or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.
- Alison.com provide a wide range of free online courses. They offer English language courses including Conversational English and Speaking and Writing English. For more information visit www.alison.com
- Write On is an online programme by NALA to help you improve your reading, writing and spelling of the English language.
www.fetchcourses.ie provides a full listing of all Further Education and Training (FET) courses available in Ireland. The website allows you to search for courses by keyword, location and category.
- Apprenticeships are workplace and classroom training programmes for employed people aimed at developing the skills of the apprentice to meet the needs of industry and the labour market.
- For more information on apprenticeships please visit www.apprenticeship.ie
- To apply for an apprenticeship contact the apprenticeship section of your local ETB here
- The Education and Training Boards provide a wide range of courses ranging from basic and second chance education ,accredited education and training courses as well as taster and hobby courses. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Initiative or ETB click here.
www.fetchcourses.ie The Further Education and Training Course Hub (FETCH) is a website for adults, including early school leavers, in or out of work, to search for Further Education and Training (FET) courses.The Further Education and Training Course Hub (FETCH) provides a full listing of all Further Education and Training courses available in Ireland. This includes full-time, part-time and online courses which are provided by a wide variety of schools, organisations and institutions. The website allows you to search for courses by keyword, location and category.
- Qualifax.ie is the National Learner’s Database where you can find a list of all courses that are taking place in Ireland. Before deciding on a course check that the course is accredited under the National Framework of Qualifications.
- Springboard offer free, part-time higher education courses at certificate, degree and masters level. Courses are targeted towards people employed in areas experiencing structural unemployment.
- To qualify you must be in receipt of an unemployed payment however no qualifying period applies. Courses are suited to people who have work experience but need a third level qualification to upskill. To apply visit www.springboardcourses.ie or Freephone 1800 303 523 (May to September)
- The 33 former VECs have been amalgamated to form 16 new Education and Training Boards. FÁS has been dissolved and the training delivery functions of FÁS have transferred to the new Education and Training Boards. The Education and Training Boards will be responsible for the delivery of Further Education and Training. SOLAS , the new Further Education and Training Authority will focus on planning, funding and driving the development of a learner focused integrated Further Education and Training sector.
- Reform has also taken place within the Department of Social Protection, with the establishment of the new Intreo services. Intreo aims to provide a one stop shop for people on the live register, including advice and information about education and training.
- The Quality and Qualifications Ireland has also been established which brings together former awarding bodies FETAC, HETAC and NQAI. Existing qualifications will be awarded during this transition time.
The EU Agenda for Adult Learning outlines how co-operation between EU member states will take place from 2012 through to 2020, and outlines member states commitments to five priorities:
- Making lifelong learning a reality.
- Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training.
- Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through adult learning.
- Enhancing the creativity and innovation of adults and their learning environments.
- Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult learning sector.
The One Step Up project is managed by AONTAS who have been assigned the role of National Coordinator for the implementation of the European Agenda for Adult learning.