It is possible to avail of certain full time second and third level courses of VTOS, Educational Training and Development schemes while retaining social welfare payments.
Back to Education allowance applies to persons aged 21 or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments for at least three months (second level course) and nine months (third level course).
Jobseeker’s Allowance Benefit or Farm Assist, one parent family, deserted wife’s benefit or allowance, widow, widowers, or surviving civil partner’s non-contributory pension or contributory pension, carer’s allowance. In certain cases, persons aged 18 years or upwards may qualify.
The weekly payment is equal to the previous social welfare payment. It is not possible to receive n Back to Education allowance and a maintenance component of a student grant. Courses may be undertaken at a secondary community comprehensive or vocational school. The course must be full time and lead to a certificate recognized by the Department of Education and approved by the Quality and Qualifications Ireland. This may include Junior Cert, Leaving Cert, Post Leaving Cert or a City and Guild certificate.
A third level course may be at any institution / university. It must be a full-time based course of study and be approved by the Department and/or recognized by the Quality and Qualifications Authority, Ireland. A 24+ year age requirement applies for postgraduate courses.
Monitoring arrangements apply. A person must attain a certificate from a school and college confirming registration commencement and attendance. The BTEA itself is not means tested, but increases for qualified adults may be means tested, if a spouse or a partner has his own income.
Persons qualifying for the allowances may be entitled to keep secondary benefits including fuel allowance, mortgage interest supplement and rent supplement. Increases of income may affect entitlement.
Training schemes and qualifications not covered by the Back to Education allowance scheme may be allowed subject to approval by the facilitator at the social welfare Office. The course must enhance employment prospects. A broad range of courses may be approved from basic education to specific training and job skills.
The Part Time Education Option (PTEO) allows unemployed persons to attend part time or evening courses while retaining Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit. They must satisfy conditions that they are genuinely seeking employment on an on-going basis. There is no additional payment or allowance. The person may be of any age and unemployed for any length of time. An application is necessary to the Social Welfare Office.
The Back to Education training and development option allows retention of jobseekers allowance and benefit, while attending retraining courses of education training or development. Unlike the Back to Education allowance, it is not a standalone scheme. Persons continue to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance and benefits.
Courses which are not recognized for BTEA second and third level options that are being pursued at an institution which is funded wholly or partly by state agencies may be approved. They must lead to employment prospects improvement. Courses in a private institution of education are not approved under the option, unless it is approved and recommended as leading to employment on completion, by a partnership in a partnership area. The scheme covers personal development courses, basic education and the acquisition of specific skills.
The person must be at least 21 years or between 18 and 20 years and out of formal education for two years. He must be in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit for six months. Certain out of pocket expenses may be paid to a maximum weekly rate. They must be made on the basis of certified daily or weekly attendance at the course. They are payments towards costs such as meals and travel that are incurred as a result of training. Participants continue to receive secondary benefits.
The part time education option allows participants to keep Jobseeker’s Allowance and benefit while attending a part time course. It is an administrative scheme. There is no specific eligibility, unlike the Back to Education allowance on the training and development option.
The course may be part time, evening or early morning. It may involve distance education or a part time course under the Back to Education initiative. The course may range from basic adult education, Leaving Cert and Junior Cert subjects to other courses. It may include personal development, catering, communication, sports and leisure courses.
The 2011 Act makes changes in relation to the National Internship Scheme. It excludes the Tax Acts from the provision of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2010 which deemed participants on the then Skills Development and Internship programme, not to be employees for the purposes of labour legislation (other than the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005).
The 2011 Act provided for a number of amendments to the operation of the social welfare means testing arrangements following on from the replacement of the Skills Development and Internship programme with the National Internship Scheme. It also provided that a person who participates on the National Internship Scheme for periods of shorter than a week (e.g. 3 days) will not be able to claim social welfare benefits for the remainder of the week.
Jobbridge is the national internship scheme, it provides for placements between six and nine months in private, public, community or voluntary sectors. The purpose is to break the cycle of jobseekers lacking job experience. It is available to new entrants or persons wishing to learn new skills. Participants in the scheme may keep social welfare entitlement and receive an extra €50 per week. A person may not start an internship until eligibility is confirmed by the Department of Social Protection.
In order to be eligible for jobbridge, an applicant must be unemployed receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance, disability allowance, or one-person family payment or signing on for credits for at least three months of the previous six. Periods spent on various other schemes including Back to Education allowance, PTOS and certain other schemes count, provided that the person completed the scheme and has signed back on the live register.
Internships may be offered in a range of sectors and occupations across public, private, community and voluntary organizations. The host organization must take the person for six or for nine months. The work must be between 30 and 40 hours a week. A participant may do additional part time work, provided it does not affect the internship and the employer is not the host organization.
Host organizations may have at least one full time employee working 30 hours a week or more. The internship must not displace an existing employee and there must be no vacancies in the area in which the internship is offered. Sole traders have been eligible since 2011.
There are restriction on the number of internships relative to the number of employees. One internship per employee is allowed up to 30 employees. In the case of a workplace of more than 30 employees, 20 percent of the workplace up to the maximum of 200 is permitted, whichever is smaller.
A host organization which employs an internee can avail of the employer job PRSI incentive scheme. An internship allowance of €50 per week is given. Secondary benefits may be retained. Persons with dependent children may be given an increase of a qualified child and increase for a qualified adult.