First Steps - Youth Development Internship

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The First Steps programme will be closed to new applications from 1st December 2017.

A short period will be allowed to process applications received by then, but the final date for a participant to commence a placement will be 2nd January 2018

All First Steps placements will finish by Friday 30th March 2018.

The First Steps programme is being closed to facilitate the introduction of a new Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) which will commence in Quarter 2, 2018.

For more information on YESS, click here

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What is First Steps?

In 2013 the EU adopted a Council Recommendation to member states on a Youth Guarantee and  one of the specific actions outlined in the Irish Pathways to Work document was to implement the EU council recommendation was to introduce a ‘developmental internship’ for young people under the age of 25 years. 

The First Steps program will offer a young person aged 18 to 24, who have had little or no experience of working, the opportunity to learn basic work skills and social skills while on a placement in a real work situation.

During the course of the placement the participant will have:

  • An appointed mentor
  • A Host Organisation/Participant agreement outlining activities/skills obtained
  • Monitoring of the placement’s progress
  • Payment of a €52.50 top -up each week on top of their social welfare  payment

The placement will be 3 months in duration with an option to extend to 6 or 9 months.

First Steps provides a supported structure, including the following:

  • Careful selection of candidates who are suitably prepared and capable of participation in First Steps,  selection will be from cohorts who have either already completed preparation courses or programmes and are ready to make the transition to a supported placement but are not yet ready for a full employment
  • Liaison with care workers or other support professionals and to identify, select and support candidates
  • A 4-day week to allow for job search activity and training and for a gradual introduction to a ‘work week'
  • Host Organisations are asked to work closely with local case officers and provide the following:
    • Identify and provide in-house or external training
    • Assign a mentor

First Steps placements are not publicly advertised; instead DEASP staff selects suitable candidates and refer them for interview.

The Host Organisation then selects their preferred jobseeker. A minimum of three candidates will be put forward for each First Steps placements available. For example, if two placements are being offered by a Host Organisation, a minimum of six candidates are put forward for interview.

Please see First Steps Guidelines for more information.


We are targeting young unemployed people aged from 18-24 who may fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Long-term unemployed
  • Those with lower education levels
  • Others who face barriers to entering employment

When will First Steps - Youth Development Internship commence?

Canvasing of organisations has commenced and will continue throughout the year. The first intake of interns is anticipated to take place in March 2015 with further intakes throughout the year.

Where will First Steps - Youth Development Internship be available?

The First Step program is available to jobseekers nationwide and internships are being sought from organisations nationwide.

Why First Steps - Youth Development Internship?

The global economic and financial crisis hit the Irish labour market very hard and youth were one of the worst affected groups. Many unemployed youth face long spells of being out of work as only around 30% of young people on benefits move into employment within a year of making a claim.

For those with less than third-level education, exit rates into employment are lower.

How to offer First Steps - Youth Development Internships - Information for Host Organisations

Eligible Host Organisations should email and one of our staff will provide you with a First Steps application form. When an application form has been processed, a Departmental Case Officer will then contact the Host Organisation to assist in finding suitable matches for the First Steps position(s).

Jobseekers that are eligible for First Steps and interested in the position will be referred for interview. A minimum of three candidates will be offered for each First Steps placement.


The European Commission is providing co-funding to the First Steps - YDI. First Steps - YDI is jointly backed by the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on an equal funding basis. For the period 2015 - 2017 the allocation from each of the ESF and YEI is €7.9m approx.

Last modified:26/10/2017

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