Bridge to Employment is a pre-employment training programme that helps companies recruit unemployed people whatever their experience of work.

Bridge to Employment objective

The Bridge to Employment programme’s main objective is to provide customised training to equip unemployed, and in particular long term unemployed people, with the skills necessary to compete for new employment opportunities on an equal basis with others.

Bridge to Employment programmes are run in response to employers with job vacancies, and the training courses aim to meet the skill requirements of the job.

Current vacancies

Current vacancies can be found on nidirect website:

Eligibility criteria for Applicants to a Bridge programme

To apply for the Bridge to Employment programme you need to be:

  • aged 18 years or over
  • unemployed (regardless of the period of unemployment)
  • made redundant or on notice of redundancy
  • working less than 16 hours per week
  • employed on a ‘zero hours contract’ provided the average hours worked in the 5 week period prior to the Bridge vacancy is less than 16 hours per week (see "16/24 hour rule" note below)*
  • eligible to work in the United Kingdom

* 16/24 hour rule - The Department for Communities' Employment Service has published guidelines for Jobseekers who work for 16 hours or more per week or who are employed on ‘zero-hours contracts’. Anyone working 16 hours or more per week would lose their entitlement to JSA. However, the hours worked can be averaged over the assessment period in the 5 weeks immediately prior to the Bridge vacancy going live.

How to apply

Application forms can be obtained from your local Jobs & Benefits Office or downloaded from Jobcentreonline website for the particular Bridge to Employment vacancy. Curricula Vitae (CVs) are not accepted as an application for Bridge to Employment opportunities.

You will be asked to complete an application form and return it to the Jobs and Benefits office/JobCentre on or before 4.00 pm on the closing date for application.

If eligible you will be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process which will either be an aptitude test or course interview. Successful applicants will be offered a training place.

If you successfully complete a Bridge to Employment training programme, you will be offered a job interview with the recruiting company.

If you are currently claiming Jobseekers Allowance, and participate in a Bridge to Employment programme and are unsuccessful in securing employment after the job interview, you will retain your entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance when the programme finishes.


Generally, there are no qualifications required to apply for a bridge programme, however some participating companies may set a minimum essential criteria.

When in training you:

  • will retain your benefits
  • will be reimbursed weekly travel expenses, limited to the cheapest cost of using public transport
  • may be eligible for child care allowance


Please note: Public Sector companies are not eligible for Bridge support

As an Employer to be eligible to be supported under the Bridge programme you must:

  • be a Northern Ireland based, inward investing or expanding indigenous company
  • be a Northern Ireland based charity operating as a social enterprise and not an agency
  • guarantee a minimum of 8 job vacancies
  • guarantee the vacancies are not ‘zero-hours contracts’
  • agree to participate in a project evaluation


Bridge to Employment Publications 

Bridge to Employment contact details


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