Overview: The way back to work

If you have been unemployed for some time or if you have never worked you may need extra supports to get into the workforce. When you first sign on for a jobseeker’s payment your individual needs are assessed to work out the best way to help you back to work. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) provides employment support and advice to jobseekers.

In some cases returning to education or retraining may be an option. You can read about training and education supports that will help you return to work.

Employment schemes

Employment schemes and internships aim to prepare you for full-time work by supporting you to update your skills, learn new skills and be mentored in a workplace environment.

Each scheme has different rules as to who is eligible so it is important to check the detailed information about each scheme. If you are returning to work through one of these schemes your social welfare payment may be affected in different ways, depending on the scheme. People on certain disability payments may also qualify for the schemes and there are a number of employment supports for people with disabilities.

The Community Employment scheme provides long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people with training and work experience through part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities.

The Rural Social Scheme allows low-income farmers and fishermen/women who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding or from fishing earn a supplementary income. They work on projects that benefit rural communities managed by local organisations.

Tús is a community work placement initiative providing work opportunities which benefit the community. Placements are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. Jobseekers who are eligible to participate in the scheme are selected and contacted by the Department of Social Protection.

Gateway is a local authority scheme providing work opportunities for long-term unemployed people who have been on the Live Register for over 2 years. The work opportunities are to benefit the local area. Jobseekers who are eligible to participate in the scheme are selected and contacted by the Department of Social Protection.

JobBridge provides internship placements for unemployed people in private, public, community and voluntary organisations. Participants must be on the Live Register for 3 months and the internships last from 6 to 9 months. If they take up an internship they will keep their social welfare payment and will get an extra €52.50 per week. From 21 October 2016, JobBridge is closed to new applications.

The Work Placement Programme provides 9 months’ work experience for unemployed people. The Programme provides places in the private, public, community and voluntary sectors. Participants do not have to be getting a social welfare payment but participants who are getting certain social welfare payments for 3 months may keep their payment.


The After-School Child Care Scheme (ASCC) supports people who take up a place on an employment support scheme or return to work. The scheme provides subsidised after-school childcare places to eligible people.


Read the section on setting up a business to find out what supports are available for people who wish to become self-employed.

Supporting employers

There are also schemes and services for employers including JobsPlus, a new employer incentive that encourages and rewards employers who employ jobseekers on the Live Register.

Page updated: 21 October 2016