Jobs initiative delivering despite hiccups
“There was a lot of criticism of it as a concept when we launched it and a huge worry about displacement. But it was created as a flexible model, so any time we’ve had criticism, we’ve addressed it,” she says.
“The initial data suggests that it has been very successful in meeting the objectives we set and it is making a real contribution to helping unemployed people re-engage with the workplace.”
Latest figures show that a total of 38 per cent of those who have completed their JobBridge placement (as of May last year, almost 2,400 had) immediately secure paid employment with their employer. The majority of those are in the 25-34 age bracket (46 per cent) and are working in small and medium-sized enterprises. Given that comparable back-to-work programmes across Europe have success rates of about 20 per cent, the results seem encouraging.*
However, at a time when more than 300,000 people are unemployed, an internship programme is just a small part of the solution. Burton says there are many other initiatives such as back-to-education schemes, trainee and apprenticeship programmes targeted at young people and the emergence of new “one-stop shops” to give jobs and training advice to the newly unemployed. “The answer is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but having many strands that cater to the wealth of human talent out there,” she says.
In the meantime, the Minister says JobBridge is being closely monitored and only jobs that give interns broad and practical work experience with significant learning outcomes are being allowed. It would be disappointing, she adds, if a focus on “a few isolated cases” was used to detract from the scheme or discourage potential interns.
If Seán Keane’s story is one of frustration, Hazel Reilly’s is one of relief. She is 22 and left school just as the downturn hit. It took her four years of job-hunting, training, courses and internships – but she finally landed her first full-time job earlier this year.
“I spent about seven months working as an intern at the Corner Bakery in Terenure under the JobBridge scheme and then was told I’d got a job out of it,” she says. “I was thrilled, because I love baking and dealing with customers.” During her internship she worked 30 to 40 hours a week. “I worked when I was sick, when I had no voice and when they were stuck. In the end they told me, ‘You’re brilliant, and we can’t afford to let you go.’ ”
Her advice to other young jobseekers?
“Just don’t give up, keep going, explore all the options available to you,” she says. “And if you find the going is tough, think of it as temporary. Just focus on the present, don’t worry about the future.”
* This text was amended on Wednesday, September 26th, to correct an error