Learn new skills or retrain


If you are about to lose your job or are unemployed you can upskill or retrain. You can do this through the formal school and college system or outside of it.

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has an online portal called the right course.

It has information on:

  • Further education and training places
  • Courses available in higher education
  • Courses for those on social welfare payments
  • Grants, other financial supports and career guidance

Higher education courses

The Springboard+ Programme provides free higher education places if you are unemployed and looking to return to the workforce. There is a range of part-time courses from certificate to master’s degree levels - levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Apprenticeships offer you a mixture of on-the-job training with an employer and off-the job training in a training centre. An apprenticeship generally lasts for 2 to 4 years.

Adult education and community education courses

You don't need formal qualifications to take part in many of the full-time and part-time courses in the adult education and community education sectors.

Adult education courses can include further and third-level education or continuing education and training. Courses are available both part-time and full-time.

Community education is adult education and learning, generally outside the formal education sector. It promotes personalised learning and flexibility within learning groups.

The Education and Training Boards (ETBs), SOLAS and other agencies fund continuing education and training programmes. ETBs organise second-level, adult, community and second chance education. You can contact your local ETB for more details. They also operate the Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) which provides a range of education and training courses if you are unemployed.

Further Education and Training (FET) courses help you develop or upgrade your skills in the commercial and industrial sectors if you are unemployed or have been made redundant. You can search online for training courses.

The Local Training Initiative Programme (LTI) is a project-based training and work experience programme carried out in the local community. It is run by local community groups. The programme is for unemployed people finding it difficult to get a job. It is primarily aimed at people aged between 18 and 35. You can find LTI progammes through your local ETB Training Centre or on fetchcourses.ie.

Community Training Centres are independent community-based organisations. They look after the training and employment needs of early school leavers, mainly aged between 16 and 21. If you are aged between 15 and 20 and have left school without any formal qualifications, the Youthreach programme will provide you with opportunities for basic education, personal development, vocational training and work experience.

Training and work experience

Employment schemes such as Community Employment and Tús provide short-term work opportunities for unemployed people. You can read more about the schemes to support employment.

Financial supports for training or education

The Back to Education Programme can support if you are getting a social welfare payment and you want to take up a second-level or third-level course.

The Part-Time Education Option allows you to keep your Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit and attend a part-time day or evening course.

The Education, Training and Development Option allows you to keep your jobseeker’s payment and attend a course not covered by the standard Back to Education Allowance such as a personal development course.

Other agencies and information supports

Agencies such as Fáilte Ireland, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Teagasc, Coillte and the Crafts Council of Ireland offer you specialist courses in their specific areas of work.

Other organisations such as Centres for the Unemployed, Family Resource Centres and Local Development Companies also provide training.

Skillnet Ireland lets groups of private sector companies set up training networks to deliver accredited and industry-recognised programmes. Skillnet Ireland also offers some training to eligible unemployed people. The training is free if you are unemployed.

You can get information on further and higher education and training courses from Qualifax. The database includes information for adult learners and recognition of prior learning with links to college and other education and training websites.

Page edited: 22 June 2023