Dáil Éireann - Volume 530 - 08 February, 2001
Written Answers. - VTOS Programme.
Mr. O'Shea Mr. O'Shea
130. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals he has to resolve the difficulties of the City of Waterford VTOS programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3445/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Officials of my Department will contact the City of Waterford Vocational Education Committee with regard to the difficulties arising in its VTOS programme. The vocational training opportunities scheme (VTOS) is delivered in  each area by the local vocational education committee. The scheme was established in 1989 with the objective of providing second-chance education and training opportunities for unemployed adults over the age of 21 and in receipt of an unemployment payment for at least six months.
Participants in VTOS cease to receive unemployment payments and are paid training allowances of at least an equivalent amount. They are also paid travelling expenses where they reside three miles from the centre and a meal allowance in line with those payable by FÁS. About 5,000 people participate annually on the vocational training opportunities scheme at an annual cost to the State of £32 million, which is partially funded by the European Social Fund. The vocational training opportunities scheme has proved successful in opening up learning and progression opportunities for people who have been marginalised by unemployment.
For each of the years 1994 to 2000, the percentage of participants who completed the programme and who progressed to work or further education was 70% or more. An annual grant of £15,000 is paid by my Department to vocational education committees in respect of each group of 20 VTOS students. It covers expenditure on such items as light, heat, rent, books and equipment and other general expenses. The rate of this grant has remained unchanged since 1989.
However, improvements have been made in the resources available for VTOS students. A training bonus of £25 per week was introduced in September 1999 for participants who were registered as long-term unemployed prior to starting their programme, i.e. 12 months, as an incentive to encourage greater participation of the long-term unemployed in education and training programmes.
A scheme of grants for childcare for VTOS students was introduced in 1998 in order to facilitate the attendance of people who would otherwise be prevented from doing so by childcare responsibilities.
The development of VTOS features strongly in the back to education initiative, as set out in the recent White Paper on Adult Education “Learning for Life”. Under this measure, £1.27 billion will be provided under the national development plan over the period of the plan for the development of a number of programmes, including VTOS, which will involve a significant expansion of part-time options. The resources for the programme will be examined in that context.
Dáil Éireann 530 Written Answers. VTOS Programme.