Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Education and Skills
FÁS Training Programmes
Dominic Hannigan (Meath East, Labour)
Question 208: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the supports available for persons who are not on the live register or in receipt of any social protection payment to access training programmes, job supports and any other initiative that is available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9949/12]
Ruairi Quinn (Minister, Department of Education and Skills; Dublin South East, Labour)
In 2011 the further education and training sectors provided almost 300,000 places. In addition, enrolments in the third level sector reached 161,000 and 5,900 places were offered through the Springboard initiative. The Department of Education and Skills will maintain this general level of provision in 2012. There is a wide variety of training programmes available through FÁS Training Services for the unemployed. Individuals who are not on the Live Register or in receipt of any social protection payment can apply to access FÁS Training Programmes. However, they will not be entitled to a FÁS Training Allowance whilst participating on the FÁS Training Programme.
There is a range of full-time and part-time further education programmes available to those not in receipt of a welfare payment. Part-time courses, mainly at NFQ Levels 1-4, and targeted at adults with less than upper second level education, are available under the Adult literacy and Community Education Scheme and the Back to Education Initiative. Full-time courses at NFQ Levels 5 and 6 or equivalent are available under the Post Leaving Certificate programme. Early school leavers aged between 15 and 20 are eligible for the Youthreach programme.
In addition, it is open to any individual to apply for a place on an undergraduate or post graduate higher education programme in the publicly funded higher education sector and depending on their previous level of educational attainment and personal circumstances they may be eligible for support under the Free Fees Scheme or the Student Grant Scheme. In general, students who previously pursued a course of study are not eligible for free fees support or grant assistance for a second period of study at the same level. Such students may, however, be eligible for tax relief for their tuition fees, as are students who undertake courses of study on a part time basis. Full details of all supports available to students who wish to return to education are available at www.studentfinance.ie. Information on available tax reliefs for tuition fees can be accessed on www.revenue.ie In addition, as part of the joint industry-government ICT Action Plan, which I launched at the end of January, 750 places have been made available on new ICT skills conversion programmes which are being rolled out in higher education institutions across the country. Access is free of charge to participants who will obtain a postgraduate qualification in core computing skills at honours degree level. Further details are available at www.bluebrick.ie.
Individuals who are not on the live register or in receipt of any social protection payment can access Skillnets (www.skillnets.com) Training Programmes in two ways: Training Networks Programme (TNP) or Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP). Under the Training Networks Programme (TNP) each network has a limited number of free places for job-seekers on its main programme of courses that are run for member companies of networks. There are many courses whereby no specific educational requirement is needed in order to take part in training but in some instances a background in the discipline or related discipline would be required. The Job Seekers Support Programme is aimed solely at unemployed people and includes free training in skills in demand by companies combined with direct access to employers through meaningful work placements.
The creation of a new further education and training authority, SOLAS, will facilitate a coherent integrated strategic national response across the Irish further education and training sectors. SOLAS will also help to facilitate the development of a strong further education and training sector within the Irish educational system which will effectively meet the needs of those who leave traditional second level schooling and those availing of ’second chance’ education. The new SOLAS mandate will be to ensure the provision of 21st century high-quality further education and training programmes to jobseekers and other learners. These programmes will be integrated, flexible, value-for-money and responsive to the needs of learners and the requirements of a changed and changing economy.