Pathways to work - schemes and initiatives

Employment and training supports

If you have been unemployed for a long time, there are many employment and training schemes to help you return to work.

The schemes are aimed at people on certain social welfare payments for a specific period.

Each scheme has its own eligibility criteria, so it is important to check the detailed information about each one.

Some schemes fund community and voluntary organisations to provide employment opportunities to benefit the local community.

Impact on your social welfare payment

Participating in one of these schemes may affect you in different ways. This depends on the scheme.

Some of these schemes are available to people on certain disability payments. There are additional employment supports for people with disabilities.

Childcare arrangements

If you take up a place on a Department of Social Protection employment programme, you may be eligible for the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). The NCS provides financial support to help parents meet childcare costs.

Supports to start your own business

If you are getting certain social welfare payments and you want to become self-employed, you may be eligible for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance.

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme helps unemployed people and others getting certain social welfare payments, become self-employed.

If you are setting up your own business and qualify for the BTWEA scheme, you can keep a percentage of your social welfare payment for up to 2 years.

Short-Term Enterprise Allowance

The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) supports people who have lost their jobs and want to start their own businesses.

To qualify, you must be getting a Jobseeker’s Benefit. There is no qualifying period to get STEA. However, if you are working part-time while getting Jobseeker’s Benefit, you won’t be eligible for this support.

The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance replaces your Jobseeker’s Benefit. It ends when your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit ends (at either 9 or 6 months).

Schemes for work experience and training

If you have never had a job or want to improve your work experience and training, you may be eligible for the following:

Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP)

The WPEP gives people who have never had a job and those who have lost their jobs a chance to get work experience through placements in host organisations.

You must be aged 18 to 65, unemployed for at least 6 months, and currently getting a qualifying social welfare payment.

Community Employment (CE)

The Community Employment (CE) programme provides training and work experience through part-time and temporary placements in jobs within local communities.

Eligibility for CE depends on your age and personal situation.


The Tús scheme is a community work placement initiative providing work opportunities which benefit the community. These opportunities are provided by community and voluntary organisations in urban and rural areas.

Eligible participants are selected and contacted by the Department of Social Protection.

Returning to full-time or part-time education

Various schemes and supports are available for people on social welfare who want to return to full-time or part-time education.

Schemes to help you get a job

There are several other schemes to help people gain employment including:

Part-time Job Incentive

The Part-time Job Incentive (PTJI) Scheme is for people getting Jobseeker’s Allowance for 15 months or more. It allows them to take up part-time work and get a Part-time Job Allowance instead of the Jobseeker’s Allowance.


JobsPlus is an employer incentive encouraging and rewarding employers who employ jobseekers on the Live Register.

Eligible employers who employ full-time employees can apply for this incentive.

Community Services Programme

The Community Services Programme supports community businesses to provide essential local services and create employment opportunities for unemployed people and people with disabilities.

Rural Social Scheme

The Rural Social Scheme is aimed at low-income farmers and fisher people. To qualify, you must be getting a social welfare payment. In return, people participating in RSS provide services that benefit rural communities.

Page edited: 16 October 2023