Learner Fund

Learner Fund to Up-skill Early Years Practitioners (2014 / 2015) – important notice
This notice is for information purposes only and is to advise that the Learner Fund will launch later in March (after St. Patrick’s Day) and that further details will be forthcoming.  
As part of a range of initiatives underway to  enhance quality standards in early years services nationally, a ‘Learner Fund’ will be launched by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in the second half of March 2014.  The Learner Fund will provide funding for a two-year period specifically to assist existing staff working directly with children in registered early years services, to gain certain accredited qualifications which are soon to become mandatory. From September 2015 all staff in Early Years Services will need to have a full Level 5 qualification, and all Preschool (ECCE) Room Leaders will need a full Level 6 qualification*.
The fund will be used to subsidise the cost for eligible learners to undertake accredited Level 5 and Level 6 courses provided by certain approved training providers. It cannot be used to up-skill practitioners other than to meeting the new requirements.   Training courses subsidised under this fund are expected to commence in September 2014. Full details of the eligibility criteria and how to apply will be available when the fund is launched in the coming weeks.
Pobal will be responsible for managing the Learner Fund which will be administered locally by City and County Childcare Committees.
Once the Training Fund is launched:
·         Training Providers who offer courses in the area of early childhood care and education and who wish to be considered for qualification onto the panel of ‘Approved Training Providers’ should submit an expression of interest (EOI) to Pobal;
·         Staff currently employed in registered early years’ services who do not meet the new qualification requirements and who wish to avail of subsidised training under the fund should follow the instruction that will be issued on registering their application.

Information for Training Providers:
Following the Launch of the Learner Fund, Training Providers may submit an online ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) through a link on Pobal’s website. The announcement of the Learner Fund is likely to be during week ending 21st March and will also be announced on Pobal’s website. The deadline for submission of an EoI will be three weeks from the date of the announcement. To be eligible, Training Providers will need to meet a number of criteria including being QQI registered with validated programmes of learning.  The EoI process is expected to heave been completed by the end of May 2014.

Information for Learner Applicants:
Following the launch of the Learner Fund (expected in the second half of March 2014), applicants can submit an online application for a subsidised training course under the Learner Fund.   To be eligible, they must be currently working directly with children in a registered early years’ service and meet the criteria for the Learner Fund which will be set out in the application process.  A link to this form will be accessible through County Childcare Committee websites and the Pobal website. Application forms will be accepted from the launch date for a period of four weeks. The Learner Fund is limited and it is expected that applications will be considered on a “first-come” basis.   Confirmation of the outcome of applications is expected to have completed in June 2014.

Please check Pobal’s website for further updates as the launch date approaches.
*(Where an existing qualification has previously been accepted by DCYA as meeting a Level 5 or Level 6 requirement it will be recognised as meeting the specified level for the purposed of the new qualification requirement).

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