JobBridge Reform Required

JobBridge is a 3 card trick by the current government to manipulate the live register.

Yes we need jobs, but real jobs paying a fair wage, “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage”.  What would Jim Larkin & James Connolly make of JobBridge?.

JobBridge is a national internship scheme setup by the Irish government in 2011 in an effort to match employers with trainees who want to acquire new skills. While I would agree with the concept of helping the unemployed and recent graduates gain work experience as it can help break the cycle and gives routine & purpose to one’s day. However the JobBridge Scheme in its current form needs to be reformed.

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The scheme is open to abuse by some employers as they may view it as free/cheap labour, and therefore use the scheme to displace existing staff or avoid hiring new staff at normal wage rates.  The Indecon report has indicated that 29% of host companies that recruited an Intern have indicated that they were highly likely or fairly likely to take on a paid employee in the absence of the JobBridge Scheme. This therefore proves that JobBridge is being used to obtain cheap labour. In a best case scenario it leads to an intern effectively serving a 6 to 9 month “unpaid” probation period before being hired as a permanent employee, however only 19% of interns are retained by their host companies. I acknowledge that some business need a break in these hard times however there needs to be more transparency as in the majority of cases the interns are not kept on and are often replaced after a 3 month period by another intern.

One of the conditions of the scheme is that the intern receives ongoing mentoring, however this is self-regulated as the intern does not get an opportunity to review their progress with a representative from the Dept of Social Protection.  Often the interns are not given any professional development and are left to do menial jobs that give then little or no advantage in the jobs market. The Indecon reports that upto 58% leave the scheme early.

Many of the jobs available on JobBridge in my view are not suitable for such a scheme as their learning curve is limited; such jobs include laundrettes, car valets etc. It should also be notes that many large multinationals such as Dell & Tesco have advertised for interns via JobBridge. In Tesco’s case they had advertised for “customer service internships” which were in effect shelf stackers, surely profitable large scale companies should not be allowed utilise the JobBridge Scheme.

A search that I conducted on the Fas Jobseekers Website for jobs available in Kerry returned 201 current vacancies; a further search revealed that 76 of these were intern positions via JobBridge.  This is a very large proportion, it’s time for the government to start creating real jobs paying real wages as without proper jobs the economy will further contract as people will simply not have any money to spend.

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