First Steps

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In 2013, the EU adopted a Council Recommendation to member states on a Youth Guarantee. The aim of the EU-wide Youth Guarantee is to provide young people under the age of 25 with a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a short time of becoming unemployed.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection coordinates the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and develops initiatives to tackle youth unemployment.

First Steps

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. Internships were not publicly advertised. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection staff selected suitable candidates and referred them for interviews with organisations that offered internships. The organisation then selected their preferred candidate.

Internships will be for 3 months (13 weeks) in duration with an option to extend this to a 6 month (26 weeks) or a 9 month (39 weeks) placement. The scheme will offer extensive support including a work preparation course and a shorter internship week of 4 days.

First Steps was similar to JobBridge which closed to new applications on 21 October 2016. A review of JobBridge has recommended that it should be replaced by a new work experience programme.

Since 1 December 2017, First Steps is closed to new applications. All First Steps placements will finish by Friday 30 March 2018. A new Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) is due to start in 2018.


Interns are paid an allowance equivalent to their current social welfare payment and 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.

Your local social welfare office should be informed of changes to your circumstances.

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.

How to apply

The First Steps programme is closed to new applicants since 1 December 2017.

There are other employment support schemes available such as Community Employment, Tus, and Gateway that you may be eligible to apply for.

Last modified:16/01/2018

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