Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP)
What is the Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP)?
The Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP) gives people who have never had a job or who have lost their job a chance to get work experience. It started on 12 July 2021.
WPEP aims to give you the opportunity to re-train and get experience in a new role, while on 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 – see 'Rules' below.
Participation is voluntary. There will be no financial penalties if you do not wish to participate in the scheme or if you drop out.
The scheme is open to host organisations in the private, public, civil service, community and voluntary sectors.
It was announced in Budget 2023 that the maximum weekly rate of the WPEP will increase by €12 with proportional increases for qualified adults and people on reduced rates of payment from January 2023.
Who is eligible for WPEP?
You must be aged between 18 and 65 and be:
- On a qualifying scheme for at least 6 months (156 days) (see below) and
- Currently getting a qualifying payment (see below)
What are the qualifying payments?
You must have been getting one of the following payments:
- Jobseeker's Benefit
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Jobseeker's Transitional payment
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Disability Allowance
- Blind Person’s Pension
- Farm Assist
- Jobseeker's Benefit for the Self-Employed
If you are getting the One-Parent Family, Disability Allowance or Blind Pension, you will automatically qualify for WPEP. You do not need to meet the 156-day qualifying period.
Other schemes that count towards the qualifying period
The 6-month qualifying period can also include time spent on schemes such as the:
- Community Employment Scheme (CE)
- Rural Social Scheme (RSS)
- Back to Education Allowance
- Solas Training Programmes
You must transfer to a Jobseekers payment before you can take up the placement.
If you spent time spent in prison, this may count towards the 156-day qualifying period, as long as you are entitled to a qualifying social welfare payment.
Contracted Public Employment Services (CPES)
You can get more information in the scheme guidelines.
Who is not eligible for WPEP?
You are not eligible if you:
- Are getting a casual jobseeker payment
- Are signing only for jobseeker credits
- Are in full-time education or full-time training
- Are getting other DSP income supports such as the Back to Education Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-Term Enterprise Allowance
- Currently or previously were a member of boards of management or held directorships with the host or affiliated business
- Had a previous employment relationship with the host in the same role
Change in circumstances
If you have a change in circumstances when you are on the programme, for example, if you get a job, you should notify your Department of Social Protection (DSP) Intreo Centre/Scheme Area immediately.
How does WPEP work?
The DSP will provide a case officer, who will be in contact with you and your host organisation throughout your placement. The placement will be monitored with monthly reporting to make sure that it continues to meet the scheme guidelines.
Training and development
When you start, you agree a learning and development plan with the host organisation. This will detail the skills and experience that you will have the opportunity to learn. You are expected to complete 60 hours of training that is provided by your organisation or on part-time education and training courses. 20 of the 60 hours should be accredited or sector specific training.
Your host organisation will nominate someone to support and mentor you. At the end of your placement, you will be given a reference stating your work experience and the skills and learning you have gained.
You can get a Training Support Grant of up to €1,000 if needed. The grant is available regardless of whether you availed of the grant before.
Duration of scheme
The scheme lasts for 6 months and there is no option to extend the placement.
You will be eligible to do 2 placements in total, up to a maximum period of 12 months (52 weeks). The placements must be with different host organisations, with a 4-week gap in between.
You will work 30 hours a week over 4 or 5 days each week. The 30 hours includes time spent on training.
You will be entitled to all the public holidays and 11 days of annual leave during your 6-month placement.
WPEP and part-time work
You can do part-time work during the WPEP placement as long as it does not interfere with the required hours of the placement. Part-time work will not affect the rate of WPEP paid. You are not allowed to work part-time with the WPEP host.
You will be paid a weekly WPEP allowance of €311 by DSP.
If you are entitled to increases for a qualified adult or qualified children or any social welfare secondary benefits (such as Fuel Allowance or Christmas bonus), you will continue to get these payments in addition to the main WPEP payment.
How to apply
All WPEP placements will be advertised on jobsireland.ie. You should check for placements that you are interested in applying for. You must apply for a placement online on jobsireland.ie.
Host organisations will decide on the application process and may have selection procedures such as requesting a CV or inviting you for an interview.
The WPEP1 (pdf), WPEP 2 (pdf) or WPEP 7 (pdf) forms must be completed jointly by you and the employer (WPEP Host Organisation). The Host Organisation must scan the completed joint application form and email it to the Work Placement Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a limited number of WPEP places available.
Where to apply
You can find out more about WPEP and the experience of WPEP participants in the DSP video.