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Written by Daniel Sheehan (alias)Daniel Sheehan (alias)

Cvapp.ie’s guide to CE schemes

17 min read
Cvapp.ie’s guide to CE schemes
Artwork by:Robynn Cristina
Whether you're familiar with CE schemes, thinking about applying to a CE scheme or simply looking to learn more, you can count on us to provide you with the facts, insights, and answers you're looking for. At cvapp.ie, we're passionate about supporting the professional growth of job-seekers. From CE scheme eligibility criteria, holiday entitlements, payment rates and the application process, we’ve got you covered.

What are CE schemes? 

Community employment schemes, otherwise known as CE schemes, are purpose-driven programmes and incentives designed to help individuals gain valuable experience while making meaningful contributions to their local communities. Eligible job seekers receive a weekly allowance while training under a CE scheme. CE schemes have proven to be highly beneficial for both jobseekers and communities across Ireland, and if you’re curious about CE schemes and whether they’re a good fit for you, you’ve come to the right place!

There are a range of CE schemes available to the public, including: 

  • Community Employment Scheme (CES): The Community Employment Scheme (CES) is designed to assist people who have been unemployed for a significant period of time. The CES helps jobseekers find part-time, temporary, or seasonal work in local organisations within their community. The aim of the programme is to provide individuals with work experience and opportunities to reintegrate into the workforce.
  • Rural Social Scheme (RSS): The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is a programme that offers part-time job opportunities to low-income farmers, fishermen, and their spouses living in rural areas. It aims to help these candidates financially and support the upkeep and improvement of local facilities and services.
  • Tús Scheme: The Tús Scheme provides job placements for individuals who have been out of work for a year or more. These participants engage in community projects for up to a year and gain valuable work experience while also receiving extra training.
  • Gateway Scheme: The Gateway Scheme offers part-time employment for people receiving specific social welfare payments. Participants work for 19.5 hours per week, and the program lasts for a maximum of 22 months.

We’ll explore CE schemes in-depth throughout this blog and learn more about CE scheme benefits, what happens when you’ve completed a CE scheme, eligibility criteria, the duration of a CE scheme and more. So, grab a seat, get comfortable, and let's dive in!

A brief history of CE schemes and why they’re important: 

CE schemes have played an important role in shaping Ireland's social and economic landscape over the last few decades. Originating in the mid-1970s as a response to rising unemployment rates, these schemes emerged as creative and necessary solutions to combat unemployment issues. CE schemes helped to address real challenges faced by communities all across Ireland, providing individuals with temporary work opportunities that not only alleviated unemployment but also equipped them with essential skills, training, and hands-on experience. 

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Irish government began to form strong partnerships with local organisations and community groups to establish a wide array of employment opportunities for eligible jobseekers. The primary objective was to empower individuals commonly challenged in accessing the job market, including the long-term unemployed, vulnerable job seekers, people with disabilities, and those lacking formal education or specialised skills.

Today, after years of growth and development, there are over 800 CE schemes in operation across Ireland, engaging thousands of jobseekers in CE scheme programmes. That’s a pretty solid win, if you ask us! 

In a nutshell, CE schemes help unemployed and eligible job seekers gain work experience and offer candidates the chance to develop new skills. These programmes not only help individuals find permanent employment in the future, but these schemes can also have a positive impact on their confidence, self-esteem, and overall well-being. While these incentives sound great (and often are great) not everyone is eligible to work under a CE scheme. Read on to learn more about who can apply!  

CE scheme eligibility: 

Generally speaking, CE schemes are available to unemployed individuals in Ireland regardless of citizenship, especially those who have been unemployed for a long period of time or are struggling to find work. To participate in a CE scheme, there are certain requirements that applicants must meet. Typically, CE scheme applicants should be between 21 and 65 years old and have been actively looking for work for at least a year. Regulations and conditions are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to verify requirements and eligibility with relevant professionals and organisations. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) sets the specific criteria and ultimately decides who is eligible for the CE schemes, so when in doubt, you can always double check your eligibility with DEASP. 

If you are younger than 21 or over the age of 65, you may not meet the age requirement for most CE schemes. That’s because CE schemes are targeted for job seekers of working age. In this instance, we recommend considering alternative employment or training opportunities like internships, educational programmes or apprenticeships. You can also access the cvapp.ie website for career tools and resources at any time for more advice and tips! 

Duration and Payment Rates:

Most CE schemes are designed to span approximately one year, offering participants the opportunity to gain work experience and receive comprehensive training throughout this one-year time period. If job seekers satisfy specific criteria, they may have the option to extend their contracts for an additional two years. Once individuals have completed three consecutive years, they are usually expected to explore different job or training opportunities before they can apply again for the CE scheme. This policy is designed to offer chances to other individuals who could also benefit from the scheme and ensure a more equitable distribution of employment opportunities among those interested in engaging in community work. However, it’s worth noting that the duration of these schemes can be adjusted based on specific circumstances, such as the need for additional training or an individual's progress within the programme. Upon successfully completing a CE scheme, participants may have the chance to apply for further schemes depending on their particular circumstances and the availability of these opportunities. 

In addition to these benefits, CE scheme participants receive a weekly payment called the CE allowance. This allowance serves as a supplementary income while individuals work part-time within the scheme, and the final amount of payment is confirmed by DEASP. Participants usually have the flexibility to earn additional income outside the CE scheme, provided it does not surpass stipulated limits. Whoop whoop!

Applying for a CE Scheme:

When applying for a CE scheme, we recommend reaching out to your local Intreo office or directly contacting DEASP to begin your application process. These organisations can assist applicants throughout the entire application process and ensure that potential participants fulfill the necessary eligibility criteria, guiding them in their journey and helping them find suitable CE scheme placements.

We recommend contacting the professionals as the application process for a CE scheme varies and involves a series of steps. Since each individual is different, the most suitable scheme for job seekers depends on their specific circumstances. During this process, DEASP or relevant authorities will carefully review each applicant's qualifications, skills, and experience to align them with available CE scheme placements. The goal is to match applicants with positions that will provide them with meaningful work experience and valuable training opportunities, enhancing their overall professional and personal growth. These authorities will ensure that applicants are well-informed about the application process, including the required documentation and eligibility requirements. Through effective guidance and collaboration, the relevant authorities strive to streamline the application process, making it as efficient and accessible as possible for all prospective participants. It’s a win-win for everyone! 

Conditions and features of a CE scheme: 

While conditions and regulations depend on the specific CE scheme you’re enrolled in, most CE schemes have the following conditions and features: 

  • Working hours and pay: In a CE scheme, people usually work around 19.5 hours per week for either four or five days. The exact hours might change depending on where they're placed and their personal situation. The amount participants receive is based on their income and includes any other social welfare payments they might be getting. This allowance is meant to add to their income and support them financially while they're involved in the scheme.
  • Training and skill development: In a CE scheme, participants receive training and develop skills in their chosen field. They can also take different courses and certifications to improve their job prospects. Typically, schemes also teach participants skills that can be used for future job applications.
  • Support and progression: In a CE scheme, people get help from their local sponsor who acts like an employer and guides them during their placement. The sponsor helps with any problems and makes sure participants get the training and resources they need to do well in their roles. Participants also have access to support services like career advice, help with finding a job, and information about education and training options. Overall, the CE scheme aims to help individuals find lasting employment by giving them the right skills and support.

Entitlement to holidays on a CE Scheme:

If a CE scheme sounds like it may be a good fit, but you don’t want to sacrifice much needed vacation time, you’re in luck! Participants in CE schemes have the right to take time off for vacations and public holidays. The amount of time-off they receive is based on how long and what kind of work they do in the CE scheme. This ensures that each participant receives a fair amount of off, in alignment with Irish labour laws and employment standards. 

Childcare assistance under a CE Scheme

If you are part of a CE scheme and need childcare assistance, you might qualify for help through support funding. This funding can assist with paying for childcare while you are involved in your CE scheme work, usually by subsiding childcare payments. 

To be eligible for funding, there are certain requirements you typically need to meet. These may include receiving a social welfare payment, having a child under 15 years old, and securing a placement on the CE scheme. The funding can help cover the cost of registered childcare services like creches or childminders for the duration of your CE scheme work. It's important to remember that eligibility and details might change based on government policies, so it's a good idea to stay updated by consulting relevant authorities such as DEASP. Funding aims to make it easier for you to participate in the scheme while fulfilling your childcare responsibilities. By accessing this support, you can focus on your CE placement knowing that your child is being cared for in a safe, supported setting. Sometimes, peace of mind can make a world of difference! 

What happens if my spouse or partner also enters a CE scheme? 

If both you and your spouse or partner participate in a CE scheme, there are some important considerations to take into account. While most of the time, your income is unaffected, your financial circumstances may change depend on the CE scheme you’re enrolled in. When in doubt, you can always consult with DEASP or other relevant organisations. If you’re entering the same CE scheme as your partner, it’s also important to consider what it may be like to work together and how this may affect your relationship at home. For some people, it may strengthen your bond, while for others, it may place a strain on your relationship. Each couple is different, be sure to take these factors into considerations. 

What happens when I finish a CE scheme?

When you successfully complete a CE scheme, congratulations are in order! There are several positive outcomes and opportunities that may await you. Firstly, completing a CE scheme shows your dedication and commitment to gaining work experience and improving your skills. While it can, of course, enhance your chances of finding employment, it also demonstrates your willingness to learn and contribute to the workforce. Employers often value participants that have completed CE schemes because they have gained practical skills and knowledge while making a positive impact in their local communities. 

Secondly, finishing a CE scheme opens up possibilities for further education and training. Many CE participants use the skills and experience they gained during the scheme to pursue additional qualifications or certifications. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who want to advance their careers in their chosen field. There are various funding and support options available to assist those who have completed a CE scheme in continuing their education. You can also talk to your employers to learn more about your specific CE scheme and opportunities that may become available once you have completed your programme. 

Throughout your time enrolled in the CE scheme, you may have established connections with employers, colleagues, and community members. Remember: these connections can serve as valuable references and networking contacts when searching for future employment. 

Completing a CE scheme is a huge accomplishment, and it can have a positive and transformative impact on your professional journey. It provides you with valuable experience, opens doors to further education and training, and increases your employability. If you have finished a CE scheme, take pride in your accomplishments and make use of the opportunities available to pursue your career goals confidently. You’re one step closer to your dream job role! 

Frequently asked questions

Do you get fuel allowance on a CE scheme?

  1. Yes, participants on most CE schemes are eligible to receive a fuel allowance, subject to certain criteria and the normal rules and regulations of DEASP.

Can you claim WFP on a CE scheme?

Yes! CE scheme participants may qualify for Working Family Payment (formerly known as Family Income Supplement or FIS). Eligibility is based on their income and family circumstances. As each person is different, it’s important to confirm your eligibility for the WFP with relevant authorities. 

What is the 4 in 7 rule?

The 4 in 7 rule, also called the Part-Time Job Option, allows people to work up to 3 days a week (or 24 hours) and still qualify for certain jobseeker's payments like Jobseeker's Allowance, as long as they meet the other requirements.

What is the one-parent family and CE scheme payment?

The One-Parent Family Payment is a form of financial support for CE scheme participants who are raising their children alone. If you're taking part in the CE scheme and eligible for the One-Parent Family Payment, you'll receive the regular payment amount. 

What class is PRSI in a CE scheme?

Eligible participants who take part in CE schemes are usually considered "Class A" for Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. You should make sure to contact DEASP to verify the specifics and determine your eligibility.

How do you qualify for Working Family Payments?

To be eligible for Working Family Payment (WFP), you need to meet certain requirements. This includes having a family with dependent children, working a minimum number of hours each week, and meeting specific income thresholds. To get detailed information about who can qualify and how to apply for WFP, you can reach out to DEASP. They will provide you with all the necessary details and guide you through the application process.


Exploring CE schemes can offer valuable benefits to eligible individuals. These programs provide employment experience, training, and essential financial support to those who may need it most. For those seeking to overcome unemployment barriers and enhance employability, CE schemes can offer a promising pathway towards securing permanent employment. By actively participating in such initiatives, job seekers may be able to bolster their confidence, broaden their professional network, and significantly improve their career prospects.

Here at cvapp.ie, we believe in making career resources accessible to everyone. If you enjoyed this blog and are keen to learn more about how to elevate your career, check out the cvapp.ie website for our top tips, tools and job-winning templates. We’re committed to advancing your career potential, and we’re here to support your career journey every step of the way. Good luck! 

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