What is VTOS ?

The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme is designed to help long-term unemployed return to full time education without losing their social welfare benefits.

VTOS will help participants make the transition back into paid employment or back to further education and eventually leading to paid employment. Participants will make new friends; acquire valuable education qualifications in an adult friendly environment. VTOS Limerick city offers a range of courses from basic to more advanced levels and we particularly welcome people who may not have had the opportunity to progress through secondary school.

Who is eligible?

An applicant for VTOS must be at least 21 years of age and getting one of the following payments for at least six months (156 days):

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Assistance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Disability Allowance
  • Disability Benefit
  • Farm Assist

Persons signing for credits for at least six months, and the Dependent Spouse of an eligible person are also eligible.
(* People in Disability Benefit should in the first instance contact their local Social Welfare Officer about exemption/entitlement to the continuation of their Disability Benefit Payment)

Periods spent on Carers Allowance, FAS Training Courses, Community Employment Schemes, Jobs Initiative, Youthreach/Senior Traveller Training Centre Programmes, or time in Prison, can count towards this six-month qualifying period but a person must be getting one of the relevant social welfare payments immediately before the course commencement date.

A person can transfer directly from the Tus Programme to VTOS if they were in receipt of one of the qualifying payments prior to commencing the Tus Programme.

The following categories are also eligible to apply for VTOS provided they are at least 21 years of age and can satisfy the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs that they have not been engaged in work for at least six months, and are in receipt of one of the following payments:

  • Blind Persons Pension
  • Deserted Wife’s Allowance
  • Deserted wife’s Benefit
  • Widow/er’s non-contributory pension
  • Widow/er’s contributory pension
  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance
  • A person who received statutory redundancy but who has not been in receipt of a qualifying payment for the required period may be permitted to participate in a VTOS course after being made redundant. This applies solely to persons in receipt of, or awaiting payment of, agreed statutory redundancy, who are over 21 years of age and available to attend a full-time course.
  • Persons signing for credits for at least six months, and the Dependent Spouse of an eligible person can also apply, but will not receive a training allowance.

What about Money Matters?

VTOS participants retain their social welfare benefits. Students in receipt of a jobseekers payment come off the unemployment register and do not have to sign on again while on VTOS. Payments are made by the ETB’s to these learners while on VTOS.
Participants retain their entitlement to any secondary benefits e.g. Fuel Allowance
There is no charge for these VTOS courses
Books, materials are provided free of charge
Examination fees are paid for.
A Travel allowance to participants who have to travel more than 3 miles to the VTOS centre. A nominal lunch allowance is paid to all participants.
(Students continue to receive allowance during the summer months)
You can work part-time during your time off at evening and weekends up to 20 hours per week with no loss of benefits
Those under 25 who are on an age related reduced social welfare payment prior to joining VTOS will have their payment increased to €160 when they join VTOS


The Department for Children and Youth Affairs offers support for childcare for VTOS students. Subvention is given for each full time, part time and half time childcare place per week for 43 weeks per annum. Once offered a place on VTOS you will be given details of crèches which oerate this scheme.

What are the hours of attendance?

VTOS is a full time programme. All classes take place Monday to Friday usually between 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.

When does VTOS Start?

Students can attend for one or two years, depending on their personal needs. The academic programme commences each year in early September and runs until the end of May.

How to apply?

Contact us or complete the online application form.