JobBridge 'should be abandoned'

Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 01:00

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy today called for the Government’s employment scheme JobBridge to be abandoned and replaced with a "proper" jobs scheme.

The JobBridge scheme was set up by the Government in 2011 to provide six to nine month internships for people on social welfare. JobBridge interns earn an extra €50 on top of their Social Welfare allowance for working.

JobBridge terms stipulate that an organisation must offer relevant work experience, but according to Mr Murphy, many organisations are using the initiative to get unskilled labour for free.

“The JobBridge scheme has been used as a scam for the Government to massage the unemployment figures and for many companies to cynically exploit unemployed people,” he said.

“Everyone I have spoken to [about JobBridge] would be happy to see it phased out and I think it should be phased out quickly. There are those who are happy with the scheme and are entitled to finish it, but it should be replaced with a proper jobs scheme,” the MEP said.

"Many smaller companies and businesses are exploiting the scheme. Cafés, restaurants and shops are attempting to portray positions as a sales assistant or barista as internships, when in fact what they are looking for is free labour."

A spokesman for the Department of Social Protection defended theJobBridge scheme, adding that an evaluation of the scheme is under way

“The department have commissioned an independent evaluation of the scheme. Indecon International Economic Consultants have been engaged to assess the design, delivery and impact of JobBridge. It is anticipated that this report will be available at year end 2012 and full details of this report will be made publicly available,” the spokesman said said.

“Participation in the scheme is voluntary and an intern may contact the JobBridge team at any stage of their internship for advice and support. Consequently any individual, who suspects that an internship may be in breach of the scheme’s criteria, including cases of suspected displacement and quality, may contact the JobBridge Unit of the department.”

At present, nearly 5,000 interns are on placement, while there are 2,388 internships currently available.

Mr Murphy also launched a website, ScamBridge.org, that he says aims to show the scheme’s flaws.

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