The chairman of
has defended the internship scheme following claims it is being abused by employers.
Martin Murphy, who is also managing director of Hewlett Packard in Ireland, said fewer than 40 of the 11,500 participating companies had been disqualified for abuses of JobBridge since it began about two years ago.
He said that, given the number of firms participating, the reported level of abuse had been "quite minimal". Department of Social Protection officials had paid monitoring visits to about a quarter of the companies and any complaints from JobBridge participants were thoroughly investigated, he added. Complaints about matters such as poor treatment of interns, the work not being as advertised and full-time jobs being replaced by JobBridge workers have been investigated by the department.
Mr Murphy was speaking on RTÉ Radio's Today with Seán O'Rourke programme about the same time that a group opposed to the scheme held a photocall outside Leinster House to highlight how it believes unemployed people are being exploited under JobBridge.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy said "the taxpayer is subsidising free labour for big companies as well as the exploitation of the interns themselves". He criticised car repair firm Advance Pitstop for seeking to hire 28 interns through the scheme, which he claimed would save it €377,000 compared to the cost of hiring full-time staff.
In a statement, Advance Pitstop insisted it was fully compliant with the terms of Government employment schemes and that JobBridge was “an important pillar of training and employment policy in the hard-pressed retail sector”.
“Indeed, over 10 per cent of our current full-time staff initially joined the company on such a scheme, including two of our branch managers,” it added.