Dáil Éireann - Volume 434 - 13 October, 1993
Written Answers. - Further Education for Unemployed.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
45. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will give the guidelines applying to those in receipt of  unemployment assistance who wish to avail of further education; and the steps, if any, taken to promote this scheme.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods) Michael J. Woods
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): We operate a number of educational schemes designed to allow unemployed people an opportunity to improve their academic qualifications and enhance their job prospects. These schemes are: the vocational training and opportunities scheme (VTOS); second level certificate courses; the third level allowance (TLA); part-time educational initiative.
Under the VTOS, people over 21 years who have been unemployed for at least 12 months or in receipt of a lone parent's payment can enrol in specially designed courses run under the auspices of the vocational education authorities. The courses are aimed at preparing participants for the junior certificate, leaving certificate and other similar examinations.
An allowance is paid which is equivalent to the lone parent's allowance or the rate of unemployment benefit/assistance payable to the client. The allowance is paid by the vocational authorities and is supported by the European Social Fund. During the summer vacation participants resume claiming unemployment payments. The VTOS has been very successful, the number of participants has increased each year and currently stands at almost 3,000.
People aged 21 or over and in receipt of an unemployment payment for 15 months or more can also pursue other full-time second level courses at an approved centre such as vocational education committee, other second level school or centre approved by the Minister. The courses must lead to a recognised qualification e.g. group certificate, junior certificate, leaving certificate, city and guilds. People are deemed to be available for work while participating on the scheme and continue to receive unemployment assistance.
I introduced the third level allowance scheme in 1990 and participation in 1993-94 is expected to exceed 700. The  scheme allows people aged 23 or over who are in receipt of an unemployment payment for at least 12 months or a lone parent's allowance to pursue a full-time undergraduate third level course at an approved institute such as a university or regional technical college. An allowance is paid for the duration of the academic year equal to their unemployment payment or lone parent's allowance.
In addition unemployed people may engage in part time study provided it improves employment prospects and is of such a nature so as not to preclude availability for work.
The educational opportunities available to unemployed people and lone parents are promoted extensively through my Department's local office, through the general outdoor information campaigns undertaken by the Department's information service. A special information leaflet entitled “Educational Opportunities for Unemployed People and Lone Parents” (SW 70) is available from any of the Department's offices.
The schemes are also advertised by the educational authorities. In addition I have recently secured the approval of the Government to my proposal for the appointment of a jobs facilitator in each of my Department's main offices. These officers will have a strategic role in helping unemployed people to seek out options for themselves whether through job opportunities or by improving their job prospects through better education or training. As part of this role they will of course be directing unemployed people towards the various second chance education schemes operated by my Department.
Dáil Éireann 434 Written Answers. Further Education for Unemployed.