Bridge to Employment: pre-employment training for the unemployed

Bridge to Employment is a pre-employment training programme, provided by the Department for the Economy (DfE) that helps companies recruit unemployed people whatever their experience of work.

Benefits to employers

The Bridge to Employment programme provides assistance to employers who are taking on new staff. The programme helps with vacancy advertising, customised training of unemployed people to the job requirements and other associated recruitment services at no cost to the employer. The Bridge to Employment team at DfE will deliver a customised training programme which will give potential recruits the precise skills they need to be productive in your company from day one.

How does Bridge to Employment work?

There are six steps in a Bridge to Employment programme:
1. Initial discussion between employer and project manager – the skills requirement and the number of prospective jobs is identified.
2. Agreement to run – programme schedule is outlined, training providers identified and training programme developed.
3. Advertising – through and other recruitment websites.
4. Recruitment to training – conduct interviews in partnership with the employer and notify selected participants.
5. Training – register the trainees and begin training programme.
6. Interview for employment – all trainees who successfully complete the course are interviewed by the employer.

Employer eligibility for Bridge to Employment

As an employer to be eligible to be supported under Bridge to Employment 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 10 job vacancies
  • guarantee the vacancies are not ‘zero-hours contracts’
  • agree to participate in a project evaluation

Programmes can be arranged for one company, or a group of companies with similar needs. The average number of participants for a programme is ten.

Financial assistance

DfE will fully fund the costs of the recruitment process and the training programme.

How do I apply?

For further information on how to get involved as an employer with Bridge to Employment you can email DfE at or Tel 028 9041 6940.

Download Bridge to Employment: employer’s guide (PDF, 152K).