A national internship scheme has been launched to give up to 5,000 unemployed people critical work experience.
Participants in JobBridge will receive an extra 50 euro a week to their social welfare entitlements as they join companies within the private, voluntary and community sectors.
Joan Burton, minister for social protection, said the scheme will offer many people the chance to get up to nine months work experience and a foot on the ladder after training, apprenticeship or graduation.
"There is strong interest in participating in an initiative such as JobBridge," she said. "We have already received 500 expressions of interest from organisations offering approximately 1,000 internship opportunities."
Most recent figures showed 440,947 people signed on the Live Register last month, with the number languishing on the dole for a year or more past 160,000.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was committed to getting Ireland back to work.
"I believe that we need a collective effort by all sectors of society to tackle the challenges facing the country," he said. "JobBridge is just such a collective effort - with the goal of ensuring that we offer people the opportunity to gain work experience through a quality internship."
A steering group on the national internship scheme was chaired by Martin Murphy, managing director of HP Ireland. It has also been endorsed by several leading Irish and multinational companies including Sean O'Driscoll, chief executive of Glen Dimplex, Dawn Foods, KPMG, Arthur Cox, Mercury Engineering, Hertz, Hertz Shared Services Centre, ESB, Bord na Mona, Tesco, PricewaterhouseCoopers, A&L Goodbody and Aer Lingus.
Gary Redmond, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, said he was encouraged that the Government was taking proactive steps to curb the jobs crisis.
"Hopefully this is the first of many initiatives that will allow those struggling to find employment get back on their feet," he said. "With over 150,000 people expected to emigrate by 2015, we require more innovative initiatives like 'Job Bridge' that will allow people to remain connected to the labour market and not falling victim to long-term unemployment."