Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

JobBridge – the real questions

September 1st, 2011 · 32 Comments · Irish Media, Irish Politics, Recession

RTE broadcast two features on news programmes yesterday on Job Bridge.  The first was an interview on Morning Ireland and the other was a  report later in the day on RTE TV saying that the Government was now going to review eligibility criteria for the scheme.

The interview with the employer on Morning Ireland set the news agenda – he wanted to recruit someone for a position in a start up – but as the person he wanted to recruit was on a FAS course they could not take up an internship position.  The interview  was very interesting as it was all about why the company needed the intern and not what they could do for the intern.  Breaking the UK market was even mentioned as being a crucial reason about why they wanted to take someone on.  No question was asked about if this person was so perfect for the role why the employer didn’t hire him as an employee?

It is clear from the reviews of adverts and  descriptions that I and others have been doing for the past few months that many companies seeking interns are far more interested in what an intern can do for them as a form of labour substitution and not about what they will be doing for the interns job prospects and training.  Remember this company that is so anxious to recruit does not have to pay one cent to the intern for 9 months.  No money is available or expenditure required for training or upskilling of the interns or job search preparation service available.

Last night it was reported that the Government is going to review the conditions to make it easier for people to take up positions.  The report did not mention reviewing the many adverts which clearly don’t meet the criteria or have been withdrawn or rewritten after being pointed out as farcical.

In order to balance the situation employers should be paying some of the interns costs,  mentoring and supervision should be monitored by a independent human trained in employment support and not by a self reporting form from the company and intern.   The unions should remember where their brains are and closely examine where internships are being used as employment substitution. The National Internship Scheme should provide a whistleblowing service giving support and protection to interns who disclose abuses of the system.

Internships that involve unskilled roles in hotel and catering, retail sales, cleaning, packing boxes, warehouse duties, the care of vulnerable people etc. should be excluded from this programme.  Companies that don’t specialise in an area should not be recruiting staff to work oh for example on their website if they can’t teach someone about the business of web design because they are a furniture removal company.

I completely understand that people are desperate for employment and for experience and that well run internships are very good ways of gaining experience and skills and making contacts.  But the companies that are recruiting and their reasons for participating need to be about employment support for the interns and not about supporting startups, multinationals and sole traders to make money.

I now would be very reluctant to use the services of a company that uses people on JobBridge to provide services and make profits for their company.  I’m not comfortable supporting companies that do 9 month job interviews.  A company that supports people to develop skills should be paying something towards the person’s wages even in a trainee role.

From the debates I am observing online many others are thinking the same.   I am particularly interested in observations of those who work in industry and are experts at their crafts and don’t usually do politics but know a lot about business. This post on the work of an instructional designer (sounds a fascinating career area by the way) and the potential for exploitation points to other areas of concern in how this scheme is designed to make profits from those not being paid for their labour.

Maybe politicians and journalists can now begin ask the real questions about Job Bridge and the purpose of internships and not some puff piece for a company who wants free staff to break the UK market.


Tags: ··

32 Comments so far