IMPACT calls for JobBridge programme to be dissolved

Kevin Callinan, IMPACT's Deputy General Secretary, said a more targeted approach to internships is now badly needed.
Kevin Callinan, IMPACT’s Deputy General Secretary, said a more targeted approach to internships is now badly needed.

IMPACT has called for the JobBridge programme to be dissolved following a newspaper report yesterday (Sunday 24th April) of its widespread misuse in the health service and elsewhere. The union has called for the scheme to be replaced with targeted programmes aimed at specific groups including unemployed early school leavers, graduates, and the long-term unemployed. It also called for internships to be better regulated and monitored.

IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said there had been many previous reports of the improper use of JobBridge, including in the health and education sectors. “Many of those who welcomed the scheme in 2011 have been troubled by the recurring reports of abuse and exploitation, which have dogged its reputation and greatly undermined its many positive outcomes.

While the scheme undoubtedly served a useful purpose when youth unemployment and emigration was rocketing at the height of the economic crash, it’s now time to move on,” he said.

Mr Callinan also said that interns were entitled to a quality experience with training and mentoring opportunities, career progression, and fair reimbursement. “A more targeted approach to internships, which recognises the different needs of graduates, non-graduates, and the long-term unemployed is now badly needed. We need to halt the growing culture of open labour market internships in our economy where, too often, internships are used to displace paid employment and drive down pay and working conditions,” he said.

Last year IMPACT published a report by Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University, which argued that the “one size fits all” JobBridge scheme should be dissolved in favour of more targeted programmes.

JobBridge: Time to start again? recommended:

  • That interns should be adequately compensated at the trainee rate of the minimum wage as a stepping stone to decent paid employment
  • That the number of active labour market internships should be proportionate to, and no more than, 5% of total active labour market interventions
  • That internships should not be allowed in the public sector until there is full staffing and the recruitment moratorium is lifted
  • That the duration of state-funded internships should be regulated on a case by case basis through Intreo, LES or JobsPlus case workers, with longer internships offering possibility of progression
  • That access to internship schemes be facilitated through regional internship strategy similar to that of Action Plan for Jobs and include working age claimants beyond the live register.

FULL REPORT: JobBridge: Time to start again?