MSLETB operates five VTOS centres in Ballina, Castlebar, Ballinrobe, Achill and Swinford

From 25th April 2022, the five  VTOS centres will operate as hubs of Mayo College of Further Education and Training in addition to their three campus locations in Castlebar, Ballina and Westport.

This exciting development will result in a single entity for a learner wishing to study a full-time Level 5 or Level 6 course in Co Mayo. It will provide a simplified pathway for a learner who wishes to engage in a full-time course in Co. Mayo. This development will allow learners to study in their locality while having the support of a larger college with class-leading TEL support, Quality Assurance, Erasmus+ programmes, sporting and social opportunities.


Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme

If you are over 21 years of age, are unemployed and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least 6 months you can apply for the Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). This scheme provides a range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. 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.

What kinds of courses are available?

The courses range from basic education and training to advanced vocational training and there is a wide choice of subjects. The courses are full-time, about 30 hours a week (for example, 6 hours a day for 5 days) and can last up to 2 years. Many courses lead to qualifications such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and awards at Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.


You may qualify for VTOS if you are aged 21 years or over and you are:

Periods spent on FET training coursesCommunity Employment SchemesJob InitiativeYouthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period.

* If you are claiming Illness Benefit, you should contact your local social welfare office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of your Illness Benefit payment.


For people getting jobseeker’s payments

In general, VTOS participants who move from jobseeker’s payments receive a VTOS training allowance at the same rate as their jobseeker’s payment.

Learners in receipt of a payment from DSP will receive an allowance equivalent to their DSP payment, and those under 25 will receive the maximum JA rate of €220 per week.

Generally, your entitlement to a VTOS training allowance will not be reassessed if there is a change to your circumstances (including means).

VTOS training allowance and work: If you are returning to your course for a second year, you will continue to get your VTOS allowance during the summer months. You can also take up full-time work during the summer months and your VTOS payment is not affected.

VTOS training allowance and dependants: If you want a dependent adult or child added to your payment you must notify the Department of Social Protection (DSP). DSP will then notify the ETB of any changes to your VTOS training allowance.

Other supports

People on Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs) who are getting VTOS allowances are not eligible for student support grants. However, this does not affect any entitlement they may have to exemption from college fees or student contributions.

There are no fees for VTOS courses and you will get free books and materials at the start of the course. Depending on your individual circumstances you may be eligible for the following:

More detailed information about VTOS is available on the DEASP’s website.

VTOS training allowances are not taxable.

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