Education and training courses that come between second level and third level are called further education and are delivered mainly through the network of Education and Training Boards (ETBs) around the Country. There are also courses offered through SOLAS, VTOS and the BTEI.
There are 16 regional ETBs throughout Ireland that offer education at Primary, Post Primary and Further Education and Training (FET) levels. FET courses and programmes are for anyone over the age of 16 and may include apprenticeships, traineeships, Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses, community and adult education. Courses provided range between Levels 1-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Some of the courses at Levels 5 and 6 could lead to further third level education opportunities at a University or Institute of Technology. If you are on a Disability Allowance while undertaking an ETB programme your payment will be suspended but you will receive an FET training allowance of the same amount.
In 2019 there were 13,098 learners with a disability enrolled in FET programmes, which was 7.3% of all learners enrolled in that year. 66% were aged over 25. Enrolments were primarily concentrated among Adult Literacy, Community Education, and Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) programmes. Specific supports for people with disabilities vary by ETB so it is important to check with the one in your region. Click here for mor information: www.etbi.ie
Formerly known as FÁS training agency, SOLAS is the state agency for Further Education and Training (FET) managing a range of programmes, including Apprenticeships, Traineeships, Skills to Advance, eCollege and the European Globalisation Fund. SOLAS also manages the Safe Pass Health and Safety Awareness Training Programme, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and the Quarrying Skills Certification Scheme (QSCS).
For more information visit: www.solas.ie
An apprenticeship combines study at an educational and training body with at least 50% learning directly in the work environment. There are over 60 fields of apprenticeships available and learners have an employment contract, earning a salary for the duration of the apprenticeship. They usually last between 2-4 years and are in one defined field or trade for the duration, resulting in an award of between Levels 5-10 on the NFQ. Apply online through www.apprenticeship.ie
Of a shorter duration than an apprenticeship, a traineeship is a structured programme of classroom education and training through an ETB in combination with partnered employers who provide on-the-job training. Lasting between 6-20 months, the learner may achieve an award at NFQ Levels 4-6. Traineeships are free to access and include at least 30% learning on the job. If you are in receipt of Disability Allowance you can retain your full payment while on a traineeship. Apply online through www.fetchcourses.ie
For those who are over age 21 and on various social welfare payments, including the Disability Allowance, VTOS provides opportunities to improve their education, gain further skills, and achieve certification that may lead to employment or additional education. VTOS is operated by the ETBs and is aimed especially at early school leavers who are currently unemployed. There are no fees for VTOS courses and you may be eligible for meal or travel allowances, as well as free childcare, depending on your individual circumstances. More about VTOS
The BTEI provides courses on a part-time basis, to allow for a combination of work, family and other commitments. It is aimed towards early school leavers over the age of 16, with priority given to those most educationally disadvantaged. Courses can lead to NFQ certification at Levels 3 and 4 with possibilities to advance to further education or employment. BTEI targets individuals and groups that experience particular and acute barriers to participation in education, including people with disabilities. There are no tuition fees if you are in receipt of disability allowance and you should continue to receive your payments for the duration of the course. More about BTEI
Funded by SOLAS, eCollege offers flexible online training courses in areas such as business, project management, information technology, graphic design, web design, digital marketing, software development and basic computers. Courses at levels 5 and 6 of the NFQ. You can only be enrolled in one eCollege course at a time. www.ecollege.ie
Intended for people who have completed their Leaving Cert or adults returning to education, PLC courses are full time programmes that can result in an award at NFQ levels 5 or 6. The courses offer a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience and are mainly provided by ETBs. There is a participant contribution of €200 per year but you may be exempt from it if:
- You hold a full medical card in your own right
- You are the dependent child of a full medical card holder
- You are eligible for a student grant
- You are getting Back to Education Allowance or a VTOS allowance