Often less talked about, QQI level 5 and 6 courses fill a space between the Leaving Cert and University. They can be of great benefit to people getting back to education, and for post-leaving cert students who are unsure of the direction they wish for their life. Level 5s and 6s can not only be used as qualifications in their own right, but can also be used to secure a place in a Level 7 or 8 university course. In some cases a Level 6 can be used to skip the first year of a related university course, which, depending on someone’s circumstances, may be more affordable.
There are education providers across the country running Level 5 and 6 courses. The Education Training Boards are the biggest providers, with colleges across the country, each offering a wide variety of courses in different disciplines. The National Learning Network also operates colleges across the country, and many other organisations offer courses at a local and national level. The INOU ourselves, provide a Level 5 course, Building Futures (linked here), at our Townsend Street, Dublin, Learning Hub.
Some Level 5 awards are a qualification to work in certain settings, for instance, a Level 5 Healthcare Support Certificate (available at DALC linked here) will qualify a person to work in a healthcare setting. For people who only really have a vague idea of what they want to do with their lives Level 5 courses can be a great way to figure that out. They can be quite broad and allow a student to try many different things while still progressing their education and building up their skills. For instance, in ETB Colleges across the country there are Multimedia courses. These courses allow a student to try their hand at graphic design, sound and video recording/editing, animation, web design, project development, and in some cases, like in Stillorgan College students, can even try their hands at 3D modelling and games design (linked here).
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme
For unemployed people thinking of getting back to education to increase their employment prospects there is the VTOS scheme. The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is open to anyone who is over 21 years of age and has been on one of a number of welfare payments for at least 6 months. The scheme is also open to anyone in receipt of a statutory redundancy who has not been in receipt of a payment for the same period.
• Jobseeker’s Benefit/Allowance (or signing for credits)
• One-Parent Family Payment
• Disability Allowance/ Illness Benefit/ Invalidity Pension
• Getting Blind Pension, Deserted Wife’s Allowance/Benefit, Widow's, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension, Widow's, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension or Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance
• A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of an eligible person
VTOS is available for courses that are full-time, about 30 hours a week, and up to 2 years in duration. The courses can be from Level 3 to level 6, or Junior or Leaving Certificate. VTOS recipients are not charged fees for their courses and are able to apply for meal and/or travel allowances, and childcare supports under the National Childcare Scheme.