The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) at Monaghan Institute has been assisting learners return to education for almost 30 years.
The VTOS funding programme was created 30 years ago to enable participants to raise their general education levels while at the same time gaining skills for entry to the labour market, either directly after VTOS or indirectly through additional education and training in the emerging further education programmes and or in higher education. MonaghanInstitute has offered VTOS learners the opportunity to participate in PLC programmes since 1992. Each year Monaghan Institute has 40 dispersed VTOS students, spread over a wide range of courses in our college.
VTOS is particularly suited to those who have been out of school for some years and who may not have achieved any formal educational qualifications in the past. The VTOS Programme is full-time and will last for a minimum of one year (September – June), maximum two years. There will also be work experience and/or project work involved in this scheme.
Monaghan Institute’s VTOS learners come from varied backgrounds and with different life skills and abilities, so returning to education can be daunting for some. However, through the strong support networks which the college provides, these learners succeed on an annual basis confidently graduating from their chosen course. Some VTOS students decide to continue their studies and progress to degree programmes in HE colleges, while others get work in their particular fields.
The VTOS Scheme has been very beneficial to eligible students in the Monaghan catchment area and without it, many long term unemployed/lone parents would not have been able to partake or succeed in returning to their studies.
Martin Fox joined VTOS in 2011 having left school early without passing his Junior Certificate. He had a passion for sports and so came to Monaghan Institute (MI) to study the Sports & Leisure Management course Level 5. He continued in MI and successfully passed the Level 6 Sports Development programme in 2013. Martin then decided to apply for a degree in Business & Management Practice in IT Carlow. In 2017, he graduated with an honours degree and was also voted Student of the Year. He is currently employed by CMETB, working in Carrickmacross Youthreach.
Ashling Burns joined VTOS in 2015 after being made redundant when the company she had worked for closed down. She applied for a Level 5 course in Travel & Tourism in Monaghan Institute and successfully passed. She continued her studies in MI in 2016, completing the Advanced Certificate in Business & IT Level 6. Then in 2017 Ashling successfully secured a place on the Bachelor of Business Level 8 Degree with DKIT. She is currently studying a Level 9 post grad in Data Analytics in DKIT.
Who is Eligible?
The VTOS scheme is open to persons who are 21 years of age or over and have been in receipt of Unemployment Payments/Credits, One-Parent Family Payments, Disability Payments, Farm Assist or Dependent Spouse for at least 6 months prior to the start of the course, exceptions to the 6 month rule are those in receipt of Statutory Redundancy and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
A person in receipt of Statutory Redundancy is entitled to apply straight after being made redundant. People currently getting PUP do not have to satisfy the usual time limits of 6 months to apply for VTOS. You will have to transfer to a jobseeker’s payment (for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance) before you can get VTOS, and your VTOS payment rate will be based on your qualifying payment.
For most of the courses at Monaghan Institute, the only charge for VTOS learners is a €50 Administration Fee – for further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants who are in receipt of unemployment payment prior to going on VTOS will be paid a training allowance at the same rate. The allowance will be paid for the duration of the course – including all holiday periods.
As it will not be means-tested, VTOS participants may also take up part-time work without affecting their payments. Where participants have been in receipt of other Social Welfare Benefits, entitlements to these will continue while on VTOS. A small maintenance allowance is paid and participants who live more than 3 miles from the course centre are entitled to a travel allowance. Books and examination fees are covered by the scheme but uniforms and kits will have to be purchased by the Students who require them.
If you are over 21 years and thinking of returning to education in September 2021 to pursue one of the many full-time courses in Monaghan Institute, the VTOS programme may well be the choice for you. Contact Denise McKenna, VTOS Admin Officer on email@example.com for further information.
Applications for courses at Monaghan Institute are currently open.