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Minister Joan Burton And The Crafts Council Of Ireland Announce Extension Of Pilot Internship Scheme For The Craft Sector

JobBridge Pilot Scheme extended following high levels of interest and participation

14 November 2013 - The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, and the Crafts Council of Ireland have today announced an extension of the JobBridge national internship scheme to allow for further internships in the craft sector. The announcement was made at Farmleigh where Minister Burton met with craft and design enterprises and interns from around the country who are currently participating in a new pilot internship scheme for the craft industry.

The pilot initiative was launched earlier this year for an initial 50 internships.  The scheme has created exciting opportunities for both Crafts Council of Ireland’s registered client enterprises and member organisations to bring in fresh talent, original ideas and new thinking to their business for a 9-month period and for interns to gain work experience and the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter a career in the craft sector which contributes almost half a billion euro* to the Irish economy.

To date 41 interns have been placed and 9 are pending approval. Following the high levels of interest and participation from both craft enterprises and interns, the pilot initiative has now been extended, with a further 50 internships being announced today, bringing the total number to 100.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister Burton said: “JobBridge has proved hugely successful since its launch, with 61% of those completing their internships progressing into employment, one of the best progression rates for such a programme anywhere in Europe. I’m delighted we are now widening JobBridge so that people interested in careers in craft have opportunities to pursue their creative ambitions. Ireland’s craft sector is made up of innovative craft and design enterprises throughout the country, providing vital employment in both urban and rural areas. The sector’s contribution to our economy and our culture is invaluable.”

The introduction of the pilot is a progressive development for the crafts sector in Ireland. A large number of Crafts Council of Ireland’s registered clients are sole trader enterprises who until the pilot had been excluded from participation in the JobBridge scheme due to their size - one of the standard criteria to qualify for an internship is that an organisation must have a minimum of 1 full-time employee who is employed for 30 hours or more per week. That specific requirement was waived for the pilot scheme.

Laura Magahy, Chairman of the Crafts Council of Ireland said: “Today’s announcement is hugely significant and I would like to thank Minister Burton and her team at the Department of Social Protection for their support of the craft and design sector. The uptake by interns through the pilot scheme launched earlier this year reflects both the levels of interest in pursuing careers in craft and the potential for growth in the sector.  The success of the pilot scheme to date is evident from the excellent feedback we have received from our member organisations and client enterprises as well as from the interns.  We look forward to continuing to work with the team at JobBridge in creating further internship opportunities.” 

The scheme for the craft sector is being administered by Crafts Council of Ireland in conjunction with JobBridge. More than 22,000 internships have commenced since JobBridge was launched in July 2011, with more than 10,000 companies participating.

JobBridge is playing a significant role in helping people back to work. According to an independent evaluation of JobBridge by Indecon International Economic Consultants, 61% of JobBridge participants have progressed into employment within five months of completing their internship.

Some 89% of interns felt that JobBridge had given them new skills, while 96% of companies that have participated in the scheme say they would recommend JobBridge to other companies. These findings demonstrate the value of the JobBridge scheme to both participants and the organisations with whom they work. Since 1st July 2013, companies who employ interns and are eligible for the new JobsPlus Scheme may qualify for a financial incentive of up to €10,000, payable each month over a 2-year period to qualifying employers, which helps to offset wage costs.


For further press information please contact:

Veronica Scanlan at the Department of Social Protection on 01-7043847 or email

Mark Kilbride, Aoife Smith or Sorcha Furlong at Elevate PR on 01-6625652 or email / /

Notes to Editor:


1 – Breakdown of JobBridge Placements by County

2 – Comments from a selection of Interns and Craft Enterprises participating in the JobBridge Pilot Scheme for the Craft Sector

About the Crafts Council of Ireland: 

The Crafts Council of Ireland is the main champion of the craft industry in Ireland, fostering its growth and commercial strength, communicating its unique identity and stimulating quality design, innovation and competitiveness. Headquartered in Kilkenny, the Crafts Council of Ireland has over 2,800 clients on its register of craft enterprises and has over 70 member organisations. The Crafts Council of Ireland’s activities are funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. For further information, please visit

About JobBridge:

JobBridge is the National Internship Scheme that provides work experience placements for interns for a 6 or 9 month period. The aim of the National Internship Scheme is to assist in breaking the cycle where jobseekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills. The Scheme will also give people a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives. The Scheme provides for up to 8,500 work experience placements in the private, public, voluntary & community sectors. Interns receive an allowance of €50 per week on top of their existing social welfare entitlement. This is payable for the period of their internship. Please see a breakdown of placements by county in the attached Table. For further information on the Scheme, please visit:

Appendix 1 - Breakdown of JobBridge Placements By County

County Finished Current Total

DUBLIN 5785 1968 7753

CORK 1617 565 2182

GALWAY 1099 376 1475

LIMERICK 828 355 1183

WATERFORD 576 205 781

KILDARE           561 206 767

DONEGAL              536 228 764

TIPPERARY 515 210 725

WEXFORD             487 180 667

KERRY                470 192 662

MAYO               374 197 571

LOUTH              403 163 566

WESTMEATH          393 150 543

MEATH                364 157 521

CLARE         351 158 509

WICKLOW           374 106 480

SLIGO  299 138 437

MONAGHAN           260 132 392

KILKENNY             252 82 334

LAOIS               228 92 320

CARLOW               217 86 303

CAVAN               206 91 297

OFFALY        195 81 276

ROSCOMMON            116 59 175

LONGFORD             132 37 169

LEITRIM  74 30 104

Grand Total 16712 6244 22956

Appendix 2 - Comments from a selection of Interns and Craft Enterprises participating in the JobBridge Pilot Scheme for the Craft Sector

Comments from INTERNS:

 “As a 48 year old, who has worked in and around construction most my working life, it came as a shock when I was forced to become unemployed at the end of 2010 and continued to be unemployed up until I started this internship with Bevel Furniture in September 2013.  With my self-esteem running at an all-time low it came as a relief to begin working and training again.  Under the guidance of Thomas Kelly proprietor of Bevel Furniture, I have found a new lease of life. I am learning new skills in furniture design and composition.  Money is not the greatest attraction for an internship but sometimes in life you have to bite the bullet so to speak to gain new skills for the future which at present I am doing. I would personally recommend an internship in the craft sector to others; find a skill you would like to learn and go for it.  By taking things step by step, we can build a better future.  With the new skills I am learning I hope one day to build and sell my own furniture and give back some of what I have learnt.”  Anthony Brooks, Workshop Assistant/Intern, Bevel Furniture/Woodwork School, Wexford.

“I have always enjoyed making jewellery as a hobby but my internship with Natasha Heaslip, a goldsmith and jewellery designer, has given me an opportunity I don’t think I could have got elsewhere; to learn a craft and develop skills that will be fundamental in helping me to become my own designer. Natasha trains me in goldsmithing and jewellery skills in the studio but also in the business side of being a designer which is really important. I was also able to gain hands-on experience at a recent craft show in Cork.  This is an amazing opportunity as I am learning all sides to being a goldsmith. I would recommend the pilot scheme for the craft sector to anyone unemployed as I feel if you can be trained in a job you love, then what you do won’t feel like ‘work’.”  Sarah Callaghan, Apprentice Goldsmith, Natasha Heaslip, Galway

“Personally I found it very hard being unemployed as I like to be kept busy and I felt completely fed up, waiting for replies to CVs that never came. It was very disheartening.  My internship with Adam King is very practical, and I have been involved in all aspects of his business, making the jewellery itself, packaging and selling. I've seen him put together his website, teach a class and he has given me a lot of helpful advice also.  But mostly JobBridge gives you the chance to use the time spent unemployed to learn some new skills, or change your career path. For me it was the chance to do something I really wanted to do but didn't know where to begin!”  Pamela-Jane Dwyer, Silversmithing & Teaching Assistant – Intern, Jewellery by Adam King, Dublin

“Having worked in construction for over 20 years and having worked with wood as a carpenter doing roofing and first and second fixing, I felt the craft sector could open a new door in my career and a new relationship with wood.  The JobBridge scheme for the craft sector has benefited me both personally and professionally. Personally, the scheme gives me a sense of purpose, also giving me back job satisfaction at the end of each day. Professionally, I am learning new skills making products from start to finish and also gaining experience priceless to me as a person looking to get back to full time work, a plus for an employer looking for people with experience in their field.  I would recommend the JobBridge scheme to other people who wish to gain experience in a new career as a stepping stone across the river to the other side to full time employment.”  Séamus Barrett, Craft Studio Assistant – Intern, OnCraft, Carlow

“I have benefited personally from the pilot scheme for the craft sector in many ways such as now having a purpose to my day, routine is back in my life and I feel that I am making a contribution again to society. I have hope of a working future again and the possibility of a full-time job at the end of the internship which is exciting. I have benefited professionally in that I am learning new skills that are transferrable to most occupations such as computer skills. I have learned the process of making a product from raw material right up to the finished product. I have learned about marketing and sales etc. This pilot scheme can only benefit me with the addition of new skills to those that I already had before now, therefore making me more employable in the future. I do hope that I will gain employment with my host company as my experience has been so far very positive. I would recommend the JobBridge scheme to anyone out there who is unemployed and looking to change career direction or to follow a certain career path.  This could be the start that you have been looking for and you cannot beat the sense of accomplishment that you feel at the end of each working day.”  David Finane, Craft Studio Assistant – Intern, Heartfelt Fashion, Laois

“I am currently two months into my internship and I already feel I have learned a lot and benefited hugely from the scheme. I am a recent college graduate and the opportunity to gain experience in the business area has been extremely rewarding for me, especially as I am working in a small business; this allows me to be involved in many different areas of the business.  I have worked in a number of areas including E-commerce, Marketing & Sales and have been involved in the decision-making process also. The craft sector was not an area I had imagined working in. However, I have found it interesting to see the process from product development through to the end result.  I would recommend a JobBridge internship to other people as I feel the skills I have learned and the contacts I have made will be beneficial for my future prospects.”  Caoimhin McEnteggart, Business Development Assistant – Intern, Green Gorgeous, Louth


“The JobBridge scheme has been a brilliant opportunity for me. As a craftsperson running my own business, you have to be able to turn your hand to all aspects of managing a business - accounting, small production lines, PR, marketing, etc, so it can mean there is often not enough time for creativity. Having my intern Sarah working with me has helped me get on top of a lot of things and it is great to have another creative person to bounce ideas off. Also, I am really enjoying showing her my system and teaching her new things; it has helped me get focused and boosted my own confidence in my own abilities. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”  Natasha Heaslip, Jeweller Designer, Galway

“As a sole trader, running a small craft business requires a large amount of time which invariably means that there are areas of the business that will suffer. Since my intern Pamela started things have really turned around with regard to production and there are areas that I can now focus on that had been left fall by the wayside. I firmly believe that the internship scheme is hugely beneficial to small businesses and the interns themselves, provided the interns are developing skills and gaining real experience. I feel very fortunate to have found someone who has a very real interest in the business and is keen to learn. An internship should be almost like an apprenticeship if it is to be of value to both parties. Long term I would like to think that Pamela will be able to stay on once the scheme finishes and without the scheme this would not have been a consideration.”  Adam King, Owner, Jewellery by Adam King, Dublin

“The JobBridge scheme has made a huge difference to the business, increasing productivity by creating a better workflow dynamic within the workshop environment. It has allowed me as the chief designer and owner of OnCraft to focus more on the design element of our work and spend more time with clients and potential clients.  The actual process of recruiting and appointing my intern Seamus was very easy. Each stage of the process was clearly communicated and there was always help or advice available if needed over the phone from Crafts Council of Ireland. I would definitely recommend the scheme to other craft enterprises. It has allowed me to take my craft business to the next level. It has given me the opportunity to increase my workload and thus my turnover. This type of workload would not have been possible without Seamus and has allowed the business expand at a pace which would not have been possible before.  The internship scheme gives my business the chance to grow to a level that’s not possible without the breathing space the scheme offers in terms of salaries and wages. Once this breathing space period ends, it is hoped the business will have sufficiently grown to allow the intern be retained on a permanent basis.” Kevin O’Neill, Owner, OnCraft, Carlow

“Our experience with the JobBridge scheme has been very positive. Recruitment ran smoothly with the assistance of the Crafts Council of Ireland guiding us through the process and the standard of applications was very high. As a result, our successful Intern, DKIT graduate (BBS International Management) Caoimhin Mc Enteggart hit the ground running.Together, we have achieved a lot in two months, with Caoimhin having some involvement in all areas of the business but specifically in business development and marketing. To date, we have increased traffic to the website and in turn increased sales, revamped the website content, run successful social media and online marketing campaigns and increased our profile.  We would definitely recommend the JobBridge pilot scheme for the craft sector to other craft enterprises. The craft and design sector can offer very valuable and interesting on-the-job experience to job seekers while benefitting from an often much-needed and valuable extra pair of hands. It’s a mutually beneficial opportunity and both sides have to work together and respect each other to make the most of it.”  Paula Stapleton & Linda Sheridan, Directors, Green Gorgeous, Louth