I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 together.
Youthreach is the national response to the needs of unqualified early school leavers and is designed to offer a programme of integrated general education, vocational training and work experience. Youthreach targets unemployed early school leavers with no qualifications or poor qualifications in the 15-20 years age range. This group is known as priority group 1 or PG1.
Youthreach recruitment guidelines circulated to vocational education committees are as follows: a PG1 trainee will be in the age group 15-20 years and have left school, be unemployed, be aged between 15 and 20 years of age at the commencement of her-his engagement with youthreach, have no qualifications or have incomplete qualifications from junior cycle, that is, less than five grade Ds at ordinary level in the junior certificate or otherwise lack competencies or skills in the area of interpersonal communications, enterprise or motivation. Youthreach age and qualification criteria may be extended in the case of the following groups – priority group 2 or PG2: lone parents; referrals from former NRB funded courses now funded by FÁS; trainees who have been released from detention; trainees whose personal or domestic circumstances are such that a foundation education and training programme is the most appropriate option for them to pursue, qualifications notwithstanding; Travellers; Drug Court participants.
At present the courses are full-time, of 35 hours duration per week, and are available on a year round basis. A training allowance is payable to participants at different rates, depending on age. The rate of training allowance for trainees aged 18 years and over is linked to the maximum unemployment payment under the Department of Social and Family Affairs for an adult. An additional training bonus of €31.80 per week may be payable in certain circumstances. The programme operates in community training workshops funded by FÁS and in youthreach centres.
A similar programme in a culturally supportive environment is operated for Travellers in a network of senior Traveller training centres. There is no upper age limit in the senior Traveller centres in order to encourage parents to participate, given the influence this exerts on their children's participation in school.