Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional measures he
proposes in order to increase the number of under-25-year-olds participating in vocational and technical education courses.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of under-25-year-olds
enrolled in vocational and technical education courses for each of the past five years.
Replies from Minister of State, Ciarán Cannon: (I propose to take questions 296 and 297 together.) There is a strong focus on under 25 year olds in education and training programmes in my Department and support for these progammes is being maintained despite the current economic difficulties.
My Department funds the provision of over 430,000 part-time and full-time places across the further and higher education and training sectors, all of which are open to young people under 25 years of age.
This provision includes the recently developed and flexible re-skilling opportunities specifically for unemployed people in areas of emerging skills needs under Momentum initiatives. The introduction of the MOMENTUM programme will have a specific impact on young unemployed people. It is to provide a
range of quality, relevant education and training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long-term unemployed. Training will be provided within the context of four themes all of which are open to under 25 year olds. One of these themes will focus on the specific needs of people under 25 and 800 places are being made available specifically for this.
For early school leavers, my Department funds 6,000 places under the Youthreach programme. The programme provides participants with two years integrated education, training and work experience. which facilitates early school leavers with opportunities to acquire certification and progress to further education, training or employment.
A weekly training allowance is paid to learners on some further education and training programmes. Learners who are under 25 will be paid an allowance of €160 per week, which is higher than the Jobseekers Allowance rates of €100 for those aged 18 to 21 and €144 for those aged 22 to 24.
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) scheme funded by the Department of Social Protection provides income maintenance for unemployed people returning to further and higher education. Latest figures show over 6,700 young people under 25 years of age are in receipt of the BTEA, 56% of whom are second level and 44% third level.
Statistics on the number of under 25s enrolled in further education and training programmes for each of the past five years is being collated at present and will be forwarded separately to the Deputy.