No problem with JobBridge firms seeking PhD interns - Burton

Minister says if work experience gets people back to employment it is ‘all for good’

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.


Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said she has no problem with companies seeking to rercuit highly skilled interns with qualifications such as PhDs through the JobBridge scheme.

Ms Burton said JobBridge was a voluntary programme and it was up to people seeking work to decide if they applied for internships advertised through the service.

“I have to say one of the sad things for me as a minister is from time to time to meet people with excellent qualifications, including to PhD level, who unfortunately have been unable to find jobs and, in a number of cases, using Jobbridge has been a successful route for them in securing further employment,” she said.

Under the Government’s JobBridge scheme, internships are provided for six to nine months for people who have been on social welfare for at least three months. They receive their social welfare payment plus an extra €50 a week in exchange for their work.

A Cork based manufacturing firm and a Dublin pharmaceutical firm recently used Jobbridge to advertise for roles that required interns to have PhD qualifications in chemistry.

Asked if she had any problem with firms using the scheme to specifically target highly skilled staff, Ms Burton replied that she did not and that “the pity is that we should have PhDs who find themselves without employment”.

She said research showed people lost confidence after being out of work for a period of more than six months and employers were more reluctant to take on people in such a position.

“If doing this helps them to get back into the workforce, and I know a number of people who have degrees and postgraduate degrees it has most certainly helped them to get back on their feet, then it is all for good.”

Ms Burton was speaking in Dublin at the launch of a initiative called Feeding Ireland’s Future, in which the food and grocery industry is seeking to provide young unemployed people with advice and an understanding of the sector.

Companies such as Tesco, Kelloggs, Musgraves and PwC are participating in the project, which follows on from an initiative that began in the UK in 2012.

It will culminate with Skills for Work Week, being held from March 3rd to 7th, during which unemployed people will be given advice on “pre-employment” matters such as compiling CVs and how to approach job interviews and a behind the scenes look at how participating firms operate.

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