Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that is not answered here? Contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.

Click on the plus symbol to see the answer to each question.

I haven’t been working for some time and I need to update my skills for employment. What upskilling and retraining options are available?

  • Intreo, a new point of contact for people who are unemployed ,established by the Department of Social Protection has Caseworkers available to inform you about upskilling and retraining options that you may be eligible for.
  • The Adult Education Guidance service based in your local Education and Training Board may also be able to assist you.  Contact the Information Officer in the Guidance Service for information on upskilling or retraining in your local area. To find local contacts visit or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 
  • Further upskilling or education and training initiatives include Springboard, Momentum and the ICT conversion courses.  Courses are offered at different times of the year, so you should visit their websites regularly for information.
  • eCollege provide online courses for job ready individuals who require training to assist them to re-enter the labour market. Courses are available free of charge to unemployed clients or (for a fee) to employed individuals who wish to update their skills.
  • is the National Learner’s database of courses across the country.  You can search for a course by subject, institution, qualification or location.

I’ve always wanted to take a course, but I’m not sure where to start. Who can I talk to about what might suit me best?

  • If you are unemployed then you may contact your local Employment Services / Intreo, a new point of contact for people who are unemployed, established by the Department of Social Protection who will help to inform you about your options.
  • The Adult Education Guidance Service in your local Education and Training Board may also be able to help you.  Information Officers can provide you with lots of information about what is available within your local area. To find local contacts visit or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 
  • CareersPortal which is an online resource, includes lots of articles and information for people who are in transition and looking for guidance.

I am retired and would like to pursue a course. Who do I contact to see what’s available in my area?

  • Education and Training Boards co-ordinate many of the courses happening in your area.  Short courses catering to different interests ranging from languages, IT, yoga and creative writing are available depending on demand.  You may have to pay a small fee to participate in one of these courses. 
  • You should also look in your local community centre, Family Resource Centre or local area partnership as they may also organise courses at different times of the year.  Your local library, local Active Retirement Association or Age Action may also provide you with informal and formal learning opportunities.
  • You could also try volunteering.  Volunteering often offers new, informal learning opportunities as well as the chance for you to share your skills with others.  Visit to find a volunteer centre near you. 
  • Remember that most courses begin recruiting in January and September each year, so keep an eye out for open days and opportunities to find out more information.  Sign up to the calendar.

Where do I find a course to improve my English Language skills?

  • Many of the Education and Training Boards offer English for Speakers of other languages (ESOL) or English for Beginners classes. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Initiative or ETB visit  or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 
  • provide a wide range of free online courses. They offer English language courses including Conversational English and Speaking and Writing English. For more information visit
  • Write On is an online programme by NALA to help you improve your reading, writing and spelling of the English language.

How do I go about doing my Leaving Certificate?

  • Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are the main providers of education and training and offer Leaving Certificate courses in a number of ETB colleges. There are also a number of private colleges offering Leaving Certificate courses.
  • Enrolment and advice takes place from the beginning of August to mid-September each year, depending on the college. The cost of doing the Leaving Certificate varies. ETB colleges are the less expensive option, however check with your local ETB to see what exact costs are involved. If you choose a private college the cost is considerably higher.
  • You should contact your local Adult Education Guidance Initiative based in the ETB if you are thinking of doing your Leaving Certificate. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Initiative or ETB visit  or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 

What is an apprenticeship and how do I apply for an apprenticeship?

  • An apprenticeship is the recognised way in which people are trained to become craftspeople in Ireland. Apprenticeships are workplace and classroom training programmes for employed people aimed at developing the skills of the apprentice to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. On successful completion of an apprenticeship, a FETAC Advanced Certificate is awarded which is recognised internationally as the requirement for craftsperson status.
  • For more information on apprenticeships or a list of apprenticeships available please visit
  • To apply for an apprenticeship contact your local Services to Business Office

I want to return to education. Where do I find out about the courses that are available?

  • The Education and Training Boards provide a wide range of courses ranging from basic  and second chance education ,accredited education and training courses as well as taster and hobby courses. To find contacts for your local Adult Guidance Initiative or ETB visit  or contact our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 
  • is the National Learner’s Database where you can find a list of all courses that are taking place in Ireland. Before deciding on a course check that the course is accredited under the National Framework of Qualifications.

What is Springboard and how do I qualify for these courses?

  • Springboard offer free, part-time higher education courses at certificate, degree and masters level. Courses are targeted towards people employed in areas experiencing structural unemployment.
  • To qualify you must be in receipt of an unemployed payment however no qualifying period applies. Courses are suited to people who have work experience but need a third level qualification to upskill. To apply visit or Freephone 1800 303 523 (May to September)


What changes are taking place in further education and training in Ireland?-

  • The 33 former VECs have been amalgamated to form 16 new Education and Training Boards.  FÁS has been dissolved and the training delivery functions of FÁS have transferred to the new Education and Training Boards. The Education and Training Boards will be responsible for the delivery of Further Education and Training.  SOLAS , the new Further Education and Training Authority will focus on planning, funding and driving the development of a learner focused integrated Further Education and Training sector.
  • Reform has also taken place within the Department of Social Protection, with the establishment of the new Intreo services.  Intreo aims to provide a one stop shop for people on the live register, including advice and information about education and training. 
  • The Quality and Qualifications Ireland has also been established which brings together former awarding bodies FETAC, HETAC and NQAI.  Existing qualifications will be awarded during this transition time. 

What is the European Agenda for Adult Learning?

The EU Agenda for Adult Learning outlines how co-operation between EU member states will take place from 2012 through to 2020, and outlines member states commitments to five priorities:

  • Making lifelong learning a reality.
  • Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training.
  • Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through adult learning.
  • Enhancing the creativity and innovation of adults and their learning environments.
  • Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult learning sector. 

The One Step Up project is managed by AONTAS who have been assigned the role of National Coordinator for the implementation of the European Agenda for Adult learning.