Schemes to support employment

Employment and training supports

There are many employment and training schemes to help long-term unemployed people return to work. They are aimed at people who have been on certain social welfare payments for a specific period of time.

Some schemes fund community and voluntary organisations, which in turn provide employment opportunities to benefit the local community.

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

Impact on your social welfare payment

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 qualify for the schemes and there are a number of 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 to meet the costs of childcare.

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 other people getting certain social welfare payments, to become self-employed.

People who are setting up their own business and who qualify for the BTWEA scheme may keep a percentage of their social welfare payment for up to 2 years.

Short-Term Enterprise Allowance

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

To qualify, you must be getting Jobseeker’s Benefit. There is no qualifying period, which means you do not need to have been getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for a certain period of time. However, you will not qualify if you are getting Jobseeker’s Benefit and working part-time.

The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance is paid instead of your Jobseeker’s Benefit for up to 9 months. It ends when your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit ends (that is at either 9 or 6 months).

Schemes for work experience and training

If you have never had a job, or if you would like to improve your level of experience and training, you may be eligible for:

Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP)

The WPEP gives people who have never had a job, and people who have lost their job, a chance to get work experience through a work placement in a host organisation.

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

Community Employment (CE)

The Community Employment (CE) programme 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.

How you qualify to participate in a CE scheme will depend on your age and your personal situation.


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

Returning to full-time or part-time education

You can read about the range of schemes and supports available for people on social welfare going back to full-time or part-time education.

Schemes to help you into employment

Other schemes to help people into employment include:

Part-time Job Incentive

The Part-time Job Incentive (PTJI) scheme is for people who have been 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.

Find more information about the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme.


JobsPlus is an employer incentive which encourages and rewards employers who employ jobseekers on the Live Register. This incentive replaces Revenue Job Assist. Eligible employers who recruit full-time employees on or after 1 July 2013 may apply for the incentive.

Community Services Programme

The Community Services Programme funds community services and community businesses to provide essential services and businesses to their communities which will provide employment to unemployed people and people with disabilities. The Community Services Programme evolved from the Social Economy Programme and provides funding approximately 400 groups.

Rural Social Scheme

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. Local organisations are funded to provide participants in the scheme with part-time work that benefits rural communities.

Page edited: 12 August 2021