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JobBridge – Unscrupulous ’employers’ and management of scheme criticised – TD

September 18th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Irish Politics, Recession, Social Policy

Following reports of the issue being raised at last weeks closed meeting of the Parliamentary Party in Tullow, Labour Party TD’s are now issuing press statements questioning the way in which JobBridge positions are being screened.

Ged Nash TD (Louth) this afternoon has called exploitation of unemployed people on the scheme ‘shameless’. He called on FAS to ‘up it’s game’ in screening applications for internships from ’employers’.

JobBridge was set up to give graduates and those coming off training schemes an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in the workforce with the potential to lead to full-time employment.

When done well and in the full spirit of the scheme, JobBridge represents a fantastic opportunity for both the employer and the intern. An internship is meant to be a structured learning programme for the participant, not a source of free labour for the employer, especially when it comes to those who post stratospheric pre-tax profits on an annual basis.”

There is substantial evidence in the public domain showing that some unscrupulous employers especially in the retail and hotel and catering trades are attempting to flagrantly abuse the scheme. The stacking of shelves and the carrying out of basic cleaning duties does not an internship make.

It is puzzling in the extreme as to how some of these positions managed to make it through the screening process in the first place and find their way on to the JobBridge site for a period. This lax practice should be discontinued immediately.

Earlier this week the Minister for Social Protection said that all positions were screened and that many unsuitable posts had been excluded.  Una Mullally in yesterday’s Irish Times reported however that the Department had only excluded 56 applications from ’employers’.

Following the Minister’s statement defending the scheme in the Seanad it was established that Tesco Ireland have advertised 12 shop floor positions for six months for the Christmas season.  (145 posts in total) Some point to the need for internships in all levels and sectors, however surely these are supposed to provide experience and training and not free labour for companies that make billions in profits.

Deputy Nash’s statement seems to have been spurred on by this development.

No matter what weak defence is put forward, these posts aim to displace real jobs. It is sickening to see massive retail organisations, some of whom are generating profits in the hundreds of millions and operating at much higher margins in Ireland than in other European countries conniving to deliberately exploit a taxpayer funded initiative designed to help those who are anxious to get into the world of work and to map out a future for themselves.

This time of the year is one which usually sees employment created in the retail sector albeit temporarily.  Supervalu, Tesco and others advertising for retail assistants through internships surely can’t be in the interest of the revenue coffers, the EU/IMF overlords or more importantly providing experience and training to graduates or those who have completed training schemes.

Senator Jillian Van Turnhout who raised the need for screening and standards for internships in the Seanad expressed her concern that the scheme could be devalued by the lack of standards and training available.

As someone who comes from the community and voluntary sector I have seen how the community employment scheme became devalued over the years. My fear is that JobBridge will become devalued over time.

An internship should be something of which one is proud of on one’s curriculum vitae. It has a standard. An employer should know that if someone has done a JobBridge internship, they had to go through certain hoops and that there was a certain level of training and standards. My concerns relate to those aspects of the internship programme and this is why I have raised the matter.

*  I’m putting ‘Employers’ in quotes from now on when I write about Jobbridge until things change – If they don’t pay wages they should be called hosts.  Then maybe the right attitude to internships might be taken by all involved.



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