Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) for unemployed people

This scheme provides training courses to unemployed people
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The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) provides training and education courses to unemployed people. 

The VTOS scheme is run through local Education and Training Boards.

Why take part in a VTOS course?

There are many benefits to taking part in a VTOS course when you are unemployed. These benefits can include:

  • Improve your level of education
  • Develop your skills
  • Prepare for employment of self-employment
  • Gain a certificate

What is involved in a VTOS course?

These courses range from basic education training to advanced vocational training. 

Courses are usually full time (30 hours a week), and can last up to two years.


At the end of a course, you may receive a qualification such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, and awards Level 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Who can take part in VTOS?

You must be be aged 21 or over to participate in VTOS.

You must also be getting one of the following social welfare payment for at least 6 months:

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Getting One-Parent Family Payment
  • Disability Allowance
  • Illness Benefit* or Invalidity Pension (*You will need to contact your local social welfare office about starting VTOS if you are on Illness Benefit)
  • Getting Blind Pension
  • Deserted Wife’s Allowance/Benefit
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension
  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance

If you do not receive any of the above social welfare payments, you may still qualify for VTOS if you are one of the following:

  • A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of an eligible person
  • A person who received statutory redundancy

Getting social welfare payments during VTOS

If you are receiving a social welfare payment, generally, you will continue to receive it at the same rate.

If you are under 25

People under 25 may receive a top-up rate of up to €198 per week.

If you are under 26 and on Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you are receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance and are under 26, you may receive a bigger payment of up to €198.

Are there other supports available for people on VTOS?

In addition to your social welfare payment, you will get free books and materials at the start of the course. This means you should not need to spend money on materials in order to take part in the course.


Depending on your individual circumstances you may be eligible for the following:

  • Meal allowance
  • Travel allowance
  • Free childcare place for your child under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme

Working during VTOS

You will not be able to work full-time when the course is in progress because your course will be full-time. If you find a job during the summer months when you are on a break from your VTOS, you will continue to receive your VTOS payment throughout those summer months. 

How to apply

To apply for VTOS, contact your local Education and Training Board and let them know you are interested in taking up a course.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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