Job Seekers 1

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme encourages people getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed. If you take part in the BTWEA scheme you can keep a percentage of your social welfare payment for up to 2 years. BTWEA is a payment made by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) to people aged under 66.

There is also a separate Back to Work Scheme called the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance, which supports people on Jobseeker’s Benefit to start their own business.


If you are unemployed, parenting alone or have a disability and are getting certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), you may take part in a second-or third-level education course and get a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

If you want to do other types of courses not covered under the BTEA, for example, personal development courses or general training courses, you may return to education under the Part-time Education option, the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) or the Education, Training, and Development option.

The DEASP has published Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme:

Since 2016/17, BTEA is only paid for courses that start in Ireland or in Northern Ireland.

However, you can be paid BTEA for a year abroad (for example, under the Erasmus scheme) if the year is an integral or mandatory part of your course. This must be verified by the registrar or admissions office of your college.




Jobseeker’s Benefit ( JB) is a social insurance scheme. It is paid weekly to insured persons who are out of work.


The Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme (PTJI) is a scheme which allows persons who are long-term unemployed to take up part-time employment for less than 24 hours per week and receive a special weekly income supplement. Participants in this scheme are expected however to continue to make efforts to find full-time work.


From May 2019 Springboard+ offers 8,088 free places on 245 courses leading to awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level.

The majority of courses are part-time for a maximum of 12 months and are open to all eligible applicants regardless of their employment status.

The following are eligible to apply for courses in 2018/19 academic year (subject to the applicant meets all requirements, e.g. academic requirements):

Returners (Formerly known as Homemakers):  May apply to all courses if they meet the nationality/visa requirement and residency criteria.

People in employment:

May apply to all courses if they meet the nationality/visa requirement and residency criteria.
Please note that a 10% course fee contribution for Level 7, 8, and 9 courses is applicable for employed participants. This is payable directly to the provider.

The unemployed or formerly self-employed:

All courses are open to these categories of applicants, with the exception of the two year part-time ICT conversion courses which are not open to those in receipt of a Jobseekers-related payment

All courses lead to qualifications in enterprise sectors which are growing and need skilled personnel, including information and communications technology (ICT); manufacturing; international financial services; and key skills for enterprise to trade internationally.

Qualifications are also available in cross-enterprise skills such as innovation, enterprise/entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and project management

Keep your social protection supports:

Most Springboard+ courses are part-time, enabling you to keep social protection supports. However, a number of the courses available are ICT Conversion courses, which can be one year full-time or two years part-time.

In relation to the one year full-time courses, those who are in receipt of a Jobseekers payment and satisfy Department of Social Protection criteria of being in receipt of a payment for 9 of the previous 12 months can apply for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

In relation to the two year part-time ICT Conversion courses, those who are in receipt of a Jobseekers payment, or a Farm Assist payment, or a Qualified Adults of Working Age payment are not eligible for these two-year courses. Please see Am I Eligible? for more details.