JobBridge programme needs to be dissolved – IMPACT

JobBridge programme needs to be dissolved – IMPACT

Union report says targeted programmes are needed

IMPACT, Ireland’s largest public sector trade union, launches the report JobBridge: Time to start again?  tomorrow (Monday 13th April) and has said that the ‘one size fits all’ JobBridge programme needs to be dissolved.

The report calls for targeted programmes aimed at distinct groups with varying labour market integration needs such as programmes targeting young unemployed early school leavers, graduates, and long-term unemployed people.

The report, written by Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University, states that open market internships are pervasive and displace paid entry level employment. It also states that internships need to be regulated and monitored, and that the culture of open market internships needs to be actively discouraged.

IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said that the research was prompted by growing concerns within IMPACT’s Education division at the improper use of the JobBridge scheme following the advertisement of Special Needs Assistant posts on the JobBridge website in autumn 2014.

Mr Callinan said “Even those who welcomed the introduction of JobBridge in 2011 have surely been troubled by the reports of abuse and exploitation which have dogged its reputation and greatly undermined its positive outcomes.

“An argument could be made that even a flawed instrument like JobBridge served some purpose in the context of stemming the tide of our skyrocketing levels of youth unemployment and emigration at the height of the economic collapse, but it is time to move on.” he said.

“Everyone who participates in an internship programme is entitled to a quality experience which offers training and mentoring opportunities, career progression pathways, and fair reimbursement. A more targeted approach which recognises the different needs, challenges, ambitions and skill-sets of graduates, non-graduates under the age of 25, and the long-term unemployed is not only preferable but necessary.

“The growing culture of open labour market internships as a pervasive feature of our economy must be addressed. It also must be ensured that the scheme is not used to displace or replace full-time paid employment, or drive down basic terms and conditions for workers through overuse and misuse” he said.

Mr Callinan said that trade unions have a key role to play in the development of more focused and regulated internship programmes and that the widespread lack of proper regulation and monitoring should not be tolerated any longer. “With strong economic growth now returning and increasing employment levels, we need our labour activation measures to adapt to reflect these changing realities.

“The purpose of this research is to set out a new vision for labour activation and internship schemes in Ireland which are more flexible, targeted and fit for purpose in a recovering economy.

“Its proposals establish a framework which would see the re-framing, restriction and re-sizing of Irish internship policy and its recommendations provide the road map to a new and robust system of activation measures and internships in Ireland” he said.

The report recommends:

  • That interns should be adequately compensated at the trainee rate of the minimum wage as a stepping stone to decent paid employment
  • That the duration of state funded internships should be mediated on a case by case basis through Intreo, LES or JobsPlus case workers with longer internships offering possibility of progression
  • 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 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

Mr Callinan said that IMPACT strongly recommends that all participation in active labour market measures is voluntary and that support mechanisms are needed to assist vulnerable participants.

Addresses will be made by Kevin Humphreys TD, Minister of State at Department of Social Protection with special responsibility for labour activation, and Dr Mary Murphy, followed by a panel discussion involving James Doorley (NYCI), Brid O’Brien (INOU) and Aengus O’Snodaigh (Sinn Féin) at the launch on Monday 13th April 2015, in Buswells Hotel from 11am.

The full report and its executive summary will be available from 9am Monday 13th April here.