JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, provides work experience opportunities for unemployed people. It is aimed at people who have been either getting certain social welfare payments or signing for credits for at least 3 months. Participants in the scheme will be offered an internship of 6 or 9 months with a host organisation. 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. A review of JobBridge has recommended that it should be replaced by a new work experience programme that is focused on skills development and targeted on longer term unemployed people.
First Steps – Youth Developmental Internship is aimed at young people aged between 18 and 24 who have little or no experience of work. First Steps is similar to JobBridge – see ‘First Steps’ below.
To be eligible for the JobBridge scheme you must be unemployed and:
*Periods spent on the Back to Education Allowance, VTOS, FET training courses, Youthreach, FIT, Momentum courses, Community Employment Schemes, Tús, the Rural Social Scheme, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, Job Initiative or Job Assist may count towards meeting the eligibility criteria for JobBridge, provided:
You cannot start the internship until your eligibility for JobBridge is confirmed by the Department of Social Protection – see ‘How to apply’ below.
Internships may be offered in a wide range of employment sectors and occupations in public, private and community and voluntary organisations.
Under the National Internship Scheme you can work as an intern in a host organisation for 6 months or for 9 months. You will work at least 30 and no more than 40 hours a week. If you find the placement does not work out, you can change to another internship. You may have a maximum of 3 internships and the total time you can spend on JobBridge is 18 months (78 weeks). However the maximum duration of a single internship is 9 months (39 weeks).
If you or your host organisation wants to terminate the internship early, a week’s written notice must be given by either party.
When your internship is terminated early or completed (after 6 or 9 months), your host organisation must notify JobBridge (pdf) immediately and you must notify your local social welfare office or Intreo centre – see ‘Where to apply’ below.
You are entitled to public holidays and 1.75 days of annual leave per month during the internship. If you are absent from work due to illness, provided you meet the requirements of your company's sick leave policy, you will continue to get your social welfare payment. The maximum cumulative sick leave allowed is 10 working days. If you exceed this your internship will be terminated immediately.
If you become pregnant, you can suspend your internship to take maternity leave. When you return to complete your internship, you must confirm your eligibility for it – see 'How to apply below. You will not get the top up payment while you are on maternity leave.
Childcare: You may be eligible for the After-School Child Care Scheme.
While you are participating in JobBridge, you may do additional part-time work provided your work does not affect your internship and your employer is not your host organisation. If you get a part-time job you must continue to meet the conditions for your payment. Your income from work will not affect your payment but you should notify your local social welfare office or Intreo Centre of any changes in your circumstances.
You can read more details in this list of frequently asked questions for interns.
Organisations participating in the scheme are known as host organisations. They can be from the public or private sectors or from the community and voluntary sector. The host organisation (HO) must have at least one full-time employee working 30 hours a week or more. The internship must not displace an existing employee and the HO must have no vacancies in the area of activity where the internship is offered.
Sole traders who have at least one full-time employee are eligible to be host organisations. If the owner of a limited company is an employee of that company who works at least 30 hours a week, paying tax and PRSI as an employee of the same company, then the company may be eligible to be a host organisation.
A host organisation must be a legal entity and must be compliant with health and safety and other legal requirements.
If Garda vetting is required the HO must ensure that this is carried out. The HO’s public liability insurance, and motor insurance if applicable, will cover any internships on the scheme.
The number of internships that a host organisation can offer depends on their number of full-time employees, as follows:
|Number of full-time employees (30+ hours||Number of internship places|
|1-10 employees||1 internship place|
|11-20 employees||3 internship places|
|21-30 employees||4 internship places|
|Over 30 employees||20% of the workforce up to a maximum of 200 whichever is the smaller|
If a HO has WPP placements as well, there are limits on the combined number of interns and WPP participants. You can read more details in this list of frequently asked questions for host organisations.
JobsPlus incentive: Since 1 July 2013, a host organisation may employ an intern under the JobsPlus incentive directly from JobBridge. The intern must have been getting a qualifying payment prior to their internship and they must satisfy the required qualifying period and conditions.
First Steps – Youth Development Internship is aimed at unemployed young people aged from 18-24 who may have lower levels of education, be long-term unemployed or face other barriers to entering employment. First Steps is similar to JobBridge but internships will not be publicly advertised. Department of Social Protection staff will select suitable candidates and refer them for interviews with organisations that have offered internships. The organisation then selects their preferred candidate.
Internships will be for 6 or 9 months and First Steps interns will be offered extensive support including a work preparation course and a shorter internship week of 4 days.
From January 2016, you will get an allowance equivalent to your current social welfare payment and you will get an internship allowance of €52.50 per week. You will also keep any secondary benefits that you have when you take up an internship. If you are signing for credits you will get €52.50 per week. No top-up payments from the host organisation are permitted, but interns may be reimbursed for expenses incurred during the internship.
If you have dependent children you will be paid the full Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) if you qualify for an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) or if you are parenting alone. If you do not qualify for an IQA, you may receive a half-rate IQC.
If there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local social welfare office or Intreo centre as this may affect your social welfare payment. Examples of a change in your circumstances could be if you get married or if your qualified adult gets a job.
Social welfare payment: When you are an intern, the time you are getting an internship allowance is disregarded when calculating how long you continue to be entitled to your jobseeker’s payment. This means that, when you finish the internship, you can resume your social welfare claim from the point at which you left. For example, if you were getting Jobseeker's Benefit and you had 90 days left on your claim when you started an internship, you will still have 90 days of entitlement left if you resume your claim when you have completed the internship.
If you are eligible for the scheme you can check the current internship opportunities. When you have identified an internship, you apply to the host organisation as specified in the advertisement. If the host organisation selects you it will give you an eligibility form UP51C to be stamped by your social welfare local office or Intreo centre.
If you are getting Disability Allowance you must download and complete form DIR PMT 1 (pdf) and send it with the eligibility form UP51C to Social Welfare Services, Department of Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford.
Once your eligibility is confirmed, the social welfare office returns your completed form to JobBridge for processing.
Organisations that are interested in offering an internship should register with Jobs Ireland as a host organisation. If they are already registered as a host organisation they can advertise their internship (pdf).
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.