DCU Access to the Workplace reaches new highs for 2021

DCU Access to the Workplace reaches new highs for 2021

Following a challenging year for internship programmes in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, DCU’s Access to the Workplace programme has rebounded from placing 14 Access students last summer, to offer a new record of 86 Access to the Workplace internships in 2021. On Thursday, 20th May, over 140 participating students and companies joined a special kickstart event to mark the commencement of the 2021 programme, and to celebrate this significant milestone.

Established by DCU Educational Trust and DCU’s Access Service in 2019, DCU Access to the Workplace provides fully paid, professional summer internships for Access students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In its first year, 39 companies participated in the programme, providing internships for 50 Access students.

However, many internship programmes were postponed or cancelled during the early days of the pandemic in summer 2020, as companies struggled to pivot to virtual programmes in a short timeframe. For Access to the Workplace, this resulted in a drop to 14 available placements. Yet one year on, many companies have now reworked their internship programmes and 55 of DCU’s Access to the Workplace partner companies will now host virtual and hybrid internships for Access students this summer. A small number will also support a pilot to extend the programme to students with a disability.

At today’s event, participating students and employers received an exclusive preview of a new research-based toolkit developed by DCU’s Leadership and Talent Institute to support the design and delivery of virtual and hybrid internships. Lessons from Virtual Internships: Research Insights and Practical Toolkit was produced by Prof David Collings and Prof Claire Gubbins from DCU’s Leadership and Talent Institute with support from Deloitte, and will be launched publicly on Thursday, 10th June.

Speaking at today’s event, Cathy McLoughlin, Head of DCU Access Service, said:

“Access to the Workplace is an important additional support for our Access students who might not have the opportunity to complete a professional summer internship otherwise, and helps to level a playing field where students from more affluent areas continue to earn more than students from disadvantaged areas, even when all other factors are equal after graduation. Independent evaluations have confirmed the programme’s benefits for Access students and we are now pleased to be working on a small pilot to explore the possibility of extending it to students with a disability in the future.”


Speaking on the strong support for this year’s programme, Joe Quinsey, CEO of DCU Educational Trust, said:

“We are extremely grateful for the generous support of our partner organisations, which has a huge impact on the lives of DCU’s Access students. Corporate internships are a key steppingstone for students in developing their professional careers. Thanks to our supporters’ resolve to pivot to virtual programmes in 2021, a record number of 86 students will benefit from a transformative Access to the Workplace internship this summer.”


If you would like to find out more about DCU Access to the Workplace, please visit www.dcu.ie/accesstotheworkplace.

If you would like to discover more about DCU Leadership and Talent Institute’s publication “Lessons from Virtual Internships: Research Insights and Practical Toolkit”, please click here to register to attend the formal launch event on Thursday, 10th June from 12 – 1pm.