Some current issues in Ireland Unemployment rate in excess of 14.8% Significant increase in long term unemployed Over 50% unemployed for more than 1 year Unemployment across sectors and educational levels Upward pressure on qualification levels Need for retraining evident Government cuts in Education funding
VTOS Description • Description of Scheme • The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme is an educational opportunities scheme for unemployed persons which is funded by the Department of Education and Science with assistance from the European Social Fund. The Scheme is operated through the Vocational Education Committees and provides a special range of courses designed to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. • The aims of the scheme are : • to give unemployed people education and training opportunities which will develop their employability • to prepare people to go into paid employment or on to further opportunities leading to paid employment
VTOS • Participation in VTOS is in two modes as follows: • - as a ‘core’ VTOS student participating in a group of up to twenty other VTOS students in a VTOS Centre or Adult Education Centre • - as a ‘dispersed’ VTOS student participating in a group of students some of whom may be VTOS students and some of whom will be studying through other schemes/programmes. ‘Dispersed’ VTOS students generally attend a Further Education College or a Post-Leaving Certificate College. • In all cases the learning centre or college will be under the management of the local VEC (Vocational Education Committee).
VTOS • Qualify if you are: • aged 21 or over and • in receipt of a Job Seekers’ Allowance or a Job Seekers’ Benefit or signing for credits for at least six months or • in receipt of a One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit, Blind Pension 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 Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, Widow's/Widower's Contributory/Non Contributory Pension/Prisoner's Wife's Allowance or Blind Person’s Pension for at least six months. Conditions may apply in the case of Blind Person’s Pension/ Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance/Widower's Contributory/Non Contributory Pension or Prisoner's Wife's Allowance. Periods spent on FÁS training courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period
VTOS Benefits • Persons in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit receive a weekly training allowance equivalent to the maximum personal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit. Any means which have been assessed are disregarded. • Extra Benefits • VTOS participants retain entitlement to their Social Welfare secondary benefits. • There are a range of secondary benefits which are not administered by the Department of Social Protection : • medical cards - administered by the Department of Health • differential rents - administered by the Local Authorities • travel (for distances over 3 miles) and meal allowances - administered by the Department of Education and Science.
Back to Education Allowance • If you are unemployed, getting a One-Parent Family Payment or have a disability, you may attend a second-or third-level education course and get the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). The weekly Allowance is paid at a standard rate and is not means-tested. However, the increase you get for a qualified adult may be means-tested if your spouse/partner has earnings. • Cost of Education Allowance • In addition to your weekly BTEA payment, you will also get an annual Cost of Education Allowance of €500, which is paid at the start of each academic year. • To qualify for the Back to Education Allowance, you must be at least 21 years of age (24 years of age for a third-level postgraduate course). • If you wish to attend a second level course you must be getting one of the social welfare payments for at least 3 months (78 days of unemployment*) immediately before you start the course. • If you wish to attend a third level course you must be getting one of the social welfare payments for 9 months (234 days of unemployment*) immediately before you start the course.
Community Employment Scheme • The Community Employment (CE) programme is administered by the Department of Social Protection. It is designed to help people who are long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities. It is possible for participants to seek other part-time work during their placement. After the placement, participants are encouraged to seek permanent part-time and full-time jobs elsewhere based on the experience and new skills they have gained while in the Community Employment scheme. • There are a limited number of Community Employment places available.
Community Employment Scheme • Participants under both options of Community Employment are paid weekly by their sponsors. • Department of Social protection offers grants to community employers towards the cost of hiring people under the scheme. The level of this grant depends on whether participants have child or adult dependants, does not provide funding for CE workers aged over 65. • The weekly rate for a CE worker based on 19.5 hours worked is as follows: • 2011Category of ParticipantRate • Participant without dependants €208 • Participant with adult dependant €332.80* • Each child dependant (full rate) €29.80 • Each child dependant (half rate) €14.90
Maintenance Grants • Available to all but means tested • Ordinary maintenance grant rates for 2011 • Rates Non-adjacent rate Adjacent rate • Full Maintenance €3,120 €1,250 • Part maintenance (75%) €2,340 €940 • Part maintenance (50%) €1,560 €625 • Part maintenance (25%) €780 €315 • The adjacent rate of maintenance grant was payable in respect of students living 24 kilometres or less from the college being attended. The non-adjacent rate applied to everyone else, including all mature students both dependent and independent.
Maintenance Grants • Special rates for disadvantaged students • The special rate is paid to qualifying students on top of the maximum rate of the standard maintenance grant. Budget 2011 reduced the special rates by 4%. • For students getting the non-adjacent rate of maintenance grant (€3,120) the top-up is €2,980, bringing the total grant amount to €6,100. • For students getting the adjacent rate of maintenance grant (€1,250) the top-up is €1,195, bringing the total grant amount to €2,445. • Higher Education Grants and VEC Scholarship Grants are paid in 3 equal instalments. The VEC or local authority sends a cheque in the student's name to the relevant college. • Grants from the Third-Level Maintenance Grants Scheme for Trainees and from the Maintenance Grants Scheme for Students attending Post-Leaving Certificate Courses are paid monthly in arrears.