Learning opportunities

Students are not insured according to Act No. 54/2006 except when the educational programme is a part of labour market measures according to the decision of the Directorate of Labour.

The job seeker shall at all times consult the advisor from the Directorate of Labour concerning the selection of occupational courses after his or her skills and situation have been assessed. A bilateral apprenticeship scheme shall  be drawn up regarding such labour market measure.

An educational programme that is defined as a labour market measure provided that certain conditions are met is the following:

  1. An educational programme that is offered according to a curriculum that has been accredited by the Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC).
  2. Educational programmes that are offered by education and training service agencies
  3. Other courses than those mentioned in items 1 and 2 that are offered by centres for continuing education
  4. Courses offered by Nýsköpunarmiðstöð Íslands - Innovation Centre Iceland
  5. Courses/study programmes held by university level continuing education institutes and offering a maximum of 10 ECTS units per semester.
  6. Secondary school level courses of study that culminate in secondary school level certificates, basic training through vocational and internship courses of study at upper secondary education level, and preparatory studies that are offered on the terms of adult education (labour market training), i.e. the study courses and the structure of the courses has reference to and is tailored for the needs of people that have been participants in the labour market
  7. Courses held by rehabilitation centres
  8. Other courses that are likely to give encouragement to people in the labour market in the estimation of the advisor of the Directorate of Labour

A self-employed individual who agrees to the provisions of the temporary provision of Article 26 of Act No. 54/2006 on amendments to the Act on unemployment insurance is not entitled to enter into an apprenticeship scheme.

A job seeker who is subject to the temporary provision regarding a reduced full time work ratio, cf. Article 25. of Act No. 54/2006 is entitled to enter into an apprenticeship scheme.

Study assistance

These guidelines apply to self-selected courses - not to those that are obligatory. Obligatory courses are 100% paid by VMST - The Directorate of Labour.

The Directory of Labour may sponsor a job seeker who is insured in the unemployment insurance system because of his or her participation in an on-the-job training programme or in a course that has been accredited as a labour market measure. The study assistance is subject to the condition that an advisor makes the assessment that the on-the-job training programme or course will be of direct use for the job seeker in his or her search for work and that it is suited for a successful outcome in the job search.

A job seeker can choose to sign on to a course arranged by the VMST - Directorate of Labour, that will be fully paid for, or to a course that he or she selects on his or her own initiative and the person will then receive study assistance to pay part of the course fee. It is not possible to take advantage of both at the same time, that is to sign up for a course and apply for study assistance during the same semester, the person has to select either of these options and may only receive one measure during each semester.

The relevant person's entitlement to benefits is irrelevant and these rules also cover self-employed individuals operating under their own ID number. (after 3 months).

Job seekers who are reduced full-time employees are not entitled to this if they have entered because of an economic downturn (they have a job that is 50% - 80% of full-time work ratio) since reduced full time employment is viewed as a labour market measure.

The study assistance grant shall amount to 50% of the total course fee but however never more than ISK 70,000 per semester or every thirteen weeks. This applies when a job seeker has not taken advantage of a course or other measures organised by VMST - the Directorate of Labour, during the same semester in question. The study assistance grant is not calculated as a percentage of the benefit entitlement. An individual who is insured in the unemployment insurance system is entitled to labour market measures irrespective of entitlement to benefits. The exception as earlier mentioned are the people who are subject to reduced full-time work ratio because of a downturn in the operations of the employer.

The job seeker's attention is pointed to his or her entitlement at the union but there is no requirement that this entitlement is used.

In certain instances the Directorate of Labour is permitted to pay a study allowance that exceeds the 50% mark such as if the Directorate of Labour is not able to offer a course under its own auspices because of small population in rural areas and therefore will buy a single registration for a job seeker with a course provider.

Applications to be received by the study and job advisors at VMST - the Directorate of Labour.

The following documentation must accompany the application:

  • Course description from school/course provider (in addition to information about the location of the course and the name of the educational institution).
  • Tuition fees (break down if other than course fees).
  • Length of the course, timing and number of classes.

The applicant needs to have been a recipient of unemployment benefits for at least one month before he or she earns the entitlement to receive study allowance.

The application for a study allowance needs to be ready at least 5 weekdays prior to the commencement of the course in order for the application to be processed before the course begins.


The course provider sends an invoice to the VMST - Directorate of Labour Service Office in the amount that VMST - the Directorate of Labour has to pay.

Accompanying the invoice must be information regarding the total cost of the course from the course provider such as information about the course and the relevant course cost or a copy of the all-inclusive invoice for the course or for the payment that the job seeker has to pay.

Click here ot apply for study allowance


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