Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

There are two types of VTOS. One is “core VTOS”, the other is “dispersed VTOS”.  The Core VTOS is a special range of courses designed to meet the education needs of unemployed people.  The dispersed VTOS is when you apply for a VTOS grant but you are attending a course in a VEC college, not necessarily as part of a core VTOS group.  Even if there is not a core group in your area you might still be eligible to apply.

VTOS is operated through the vocational education committees (VECs) and is aimed in particular at unemployed people who are early school-leavers.  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.

Can I join the scheme?

You can apply to join if you are:

  • aged 21 or over and
  • in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit or signing for credits for at least six months or in receipt of a one-parent family payment, disability allowance, disability benefit* or invalidity pension for at least six months or are a dependent spouse of an eligible person for at least six months or in receipt of a blind person’s pension, deserted wife’s allowance / benefit, widow/widowers contributory/non-contributory pension or prisoner’s wife’s allowance for at least six months. Conditions may apply in these cases.
  • Periods spent on FÁS training courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period
  • Note: there are only 100 places in the County Cork VEC

The following may also be eligible for VTOS:

  • Carer’s Allowance, Farm Assist, Statutory redundancy, People on Disability Benefit should, in the first instance, contact their local Social Welfare Office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of their Disability Benefit payment.

What will it cost me?

  • Courses are provided free of charge.
  • If you are currently getting an employment payment, you will instead get a training allowance equivalent to the maximum standard rate of Unemployment Benefit. If you are getting One-Parent Family Payment or Disability Allowances you will get a payment equivalent to the maximum rate of your current social welfare payment. You will continue to receive payment in a normal way from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.
  • You will get travel (for distances over 3 miles) and meal allowances.
  • You will be given books and materials free of charge.
  • Childcare support is also available.

What does the programme involve?

  • 30 hours course attendance per week, (e.g. 6 hours a day for 5 days). Courses last up to two years.
  • Courses include a wide range of levels, including Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate, and the Foundation, Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates of the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).


Youghal: A Core VTOS course takes place at the East Cork Adult Education Centre in Youghal. This is a FETAC Level 3&4 course which is 5 days a week over two years.

Contact:            Maureen Murnane, VTOS Co-Ordinator (Cork County)

Telephone:            028 40290

Email:                     vtos@wcaded.ie

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