Access to the Workplace

PwC staff at Access to the Workplace launch

DCU Access to the Workplace provides DCU Access students with a high quality internship during their summer break, hosted by leading Irish companies participating in the programme. 

Using their summer break to gain professional experience related to their degree can significantly enhance a student’s future career prospects and social mobility. However, not all students possess the social and professional networks that can help to secure paid, professional summer work experience. This is particularly true for DCU Access students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

In response, DCU Educational Trust and DCU’s Access Service launched DCU Access to the Workplace, to enable Access students to find high-quality summer employment in established workplaces and to generate a modest income during their summer break. 

Since its establishment in 2019, the programme has received widespread recognition for its excellence and innovation, winning the Best Business and Third Level Institution Collaboration prize at the Education Awards in 2020. DCU Access to the Workplace is also backed by Rethink Ireland’s Children and Youth Fund, which is supporting the programme’s growth and development over the next three years.

Access students are a part of DCU’s Access Programme, the largest programme of its kind in Ireland, supporting nearly 1,200 students in the 2020/2021 academic year. It makes third level education attainable to talented students from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds and provides a range of personal, financial and academic support to enable students to thrive and excel in their studies in DCU. 

The commitment of our Access to the Workplace partners is critical in enabling students to save, while also preparing for work in a professional environment and gaining experience in their chosen field.

Benefits for participating employers

  • Engage with talented students from the DCU Access programme
  • Opportunity to build on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy
  • Adds to diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Provides companies with highly-motivated students who have completed a Workplace Readiness Programme
  • Enables companies to develop and deepen relationships with DCU and the DCU community
  • Opportunity to give team members a new line management or mentoring responsibility
  • Brings new thinking and perspectives to the workplace
  • Help with immediate company workload

Benefits for participating students

  • Opportunity to earn and learn. Students will complete a fully paid, professional internship for a minimum of 4 weeks
  • Opportunity to participate in a programme that will equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to fully participate and engage in a professional work environment
  • Opportunity to be mentored by experienced staff members in their chosen field
  • Gain an understanding of a particular job or industry
  • Understand how organisations operate and the challenges they face
  • Networking opportunities
  • Participate in a tailored Work Readiness Programme that will assist students with creating a professional CV and cover letter, developing interview skills and gaining new skills and knowledge necessary for a work environment
  • Exposure to industry-led workshops and events hosted by some of Ireland’s leading companies
  • Opportunity to develop and apply university learning in a real work setting and enhance CVs for INTRA or graduate roles

Employer requirements and eligibility

    The DCU Access to the Workplace philanthropic support programme is open to organisations who support the DCU Access Scholarship Programme. Companies who wish to participate must also be:

  • Willing to employ a student for a minimum of 4 weeks and maximum of 12 weeks during June – August 2021
  • Willing to provide at least 30 hours per week at a minimum rate of €10.20 per hour (in line with the National Minimum Wage)
  • Willing to agree to the terms listed in the DCU Access to the Workplace Employer Charter, which will be provided by the DCU Educational Trust team

Access to the Workplace Partner Companies

A&L Goodbody
AIG Europe ltd
Allied Irish Banks plc
Alltech Bioscience Centre
Aon Ireland
Ark Life
Arthur Cox
B.C. McGettigan Limited
Bank of Ireland
Bonnington Hotel
Britvic International and Ireland
BT Ireland
CAE Parc Aviation
Carne Global Financial Services
Cityjet ltd
Codex Office Solutions
Colgate Palmolive
Collen Construction
County Monaghan Fund
CRH plc
Elgin Energy
Fidelity Investments Ireland
Fingal County Council
Gaelite Signs Ltd
General Paints Group
Goodbody Stockbrokers
Highfield Hospital Group
Irish Distillers Pernod Richard
Irish Life Group ltd
Jacobs Engineering
Jenkinson Logistics
Jones Engineering
LIDL (Ireland) ltd
Marks and Spencer Ireland
Mason Hayes & Curran
Maples Group
MasterCard Ireland
Matthews Coach Hire ltd
McGarrell Reilly Group
McKeon Group
Mondelez Ireland ltd
MSD Ireland
MUFG Investor Services
National Recruitment Federation
National Standards Authority of Ireland
National Treasury Management Agency
Ornua Foods
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
Ulster Bank Ireland ltd
Vodafone Ireland
William Fry Solicitors
Willis Towers Watson
Zurich Europe/EMEA

Access to the Workplace 2019 Pilot Evaluation

The 2019 pilot of the Access to the Workplace Programme enabled 50 DCU Access students to find high-quality summer employment in 39 established workplaces and to generate a modest income during their summer break.

DCU Educational Trust and DCU’s Access Service were keen to monitor outcomes and to evaluate the impact of the pilot programme for both students and companies. In order to do this, students completed a pre-placement survey and a post-placement reflective log. S3 Solutions were also commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation by gathering additional qualitative data through 25 student and 22 company interviews.

Below is an overview of some of the key findings from the independent evaluation of the 2019 pilot programme. The full pilot impact review can be viewed here.

Student Impact

  • 440 weeks of placements were completed by participating students
  • Participating students collectively earned approximately €180,000
  • The quality of placements distinguished the experience, with 94% of students surveyed stating they would have been unable to secure a placement of similar quality through their own networks
  • 72% of students interviewed felt the programme had increased their motivation in relation to their degree and career
  • 100% of students interviewed noted that the programme had helped to build their confidence and capacity in at least one of the following areas:
    – Working in an office environment
    – How to act and present yourself
    – Delivering presentations and public speaking
    – Using software and programmes
    – Working on their own against a work plan
    100% of students would recommend the programme to other students

Company Impact

  • Companies viewed participation as an opportunity to build on their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy while also adding to diversity and inclusion to the workplace
  • The programme provided an opportunity for staff development by giving team members a new line management or mentoring responsibility
  • Students helped with the immediate company workload and brought new perspectives into the workplace, helping to “freshen things up”
  • 91% of companies felt their experience of the pilot programme had either met or exceeded their expectations
  • 100% of partner companies plan to offer an Access to the Workplace placement in 2020
  • Access to the Workplace partner companies pledged an additional €395,000 to support scholarships for DCU Access students

DCU Access Student Stories

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