Public sector has hired 5,000 JobBridge interns
Department of Social Protection says interns benefit
Aengus O’Snodaigh: said the figures showed that “real jobs” in the public sector were being displaced by cheap labour provided by JobBridge interns. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Almost 5,000 JobBridge interns have been engaged in the public sector, according to information supplied to Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh in response to a parliamentary question.
Mr Ó Snodaigh said the figures showed that “real jobs” in the public sector were being displaced by cheap labour provided by JobBridge interns.
However, the Department of Social Protection last night defended the scheme, saying the vast majority of interns had benefited from it, and an independent evaluation had found that more than 40 per cent of the participants in the public sector went on to find employment.
Mr Ó Snodaigh, who is Sinn Féin’s spokesman for social protection, said: “Almost one in four JobBridge internships is taking place in the public sector. The 4,944 JobBridge interns engaged by public sector bodies are doing work that should be undertaken by properly paid employees.”
He said this involved a displacement of real jobs, and to make matters worse the interns had no hope of gaining employment with their host at the end of the internship because the recruitment embargo prohibits it.
Mr Ó Snodaigh said Galway, Donegal and Cork county councils were particularly guilty of exploiting the scheme to compensate for Government-imposed funding shortfalls.
“These are scandalous figures. They represent an outrageous undermining of jobs that Minister Burton and the Labour Party are actively complicit in,” he said.
“Rather than shamefully undermining jobs and conditions of employment in the public sector, what we want the Government and the Labour Party to do is ease the recruitment embargo to allow for the recruitment of frontline staff where they are so obviously needed.”
A spokesman for the Department of Social Protection said that public sector internships, like any other, should give an intern a high-quality, real-workplace experience. In order to protect the intern and ensure the integrity of the scheme, control measures were in place.
“The recent independent evaluation of JobBridge undertaken by Indecon International Economic Consultants found that over two-thirds of internships which commenced by November 2012 have been in private sector organisations, while 22 per cent of internships have been in the public sector and 9 per cent in community and voluntary sector organisations.”
The spokesman added that the Indecon evaluation found higher rate of employment among participants who completed their internships in private sector organisations.
“Encouragingly, however, 41.2 per cent of all participants who undertook their internship in a public sector organisation progressed into paid employment.
“The exceptional rates of progression into employment among public sector interns also show that the benefits of the development and experience that interns gain in public sector host organisations facilitate them in gaining employment.”
Today Ms Burton will announce an extension of the JobBridge scheme to allow for further internships in the crafts sector.