Back-to-work scheme 'needs reform'
One of the Government's flagship back-to-work schemes needs to do more for people without a university degree, a report has found.
Almost two-thirds of participants accepted on to JobBridge have third-level qualifications and above.
Consultants hired by the Government to review the scheme have questioned whether it is targeting those most in need of work experience.
The numbers of non-graduates taking part "is an issue that requires attention," they warned.
Particular concerns were flagged about the lack of lower-skilled, who are most at risk of unemployment, being given internships.
Consultants have also called for JobBridge to cut down on "potential deadweight" - who are well-qualified and more likely to get employment without taking part in the scheme.
More than 16,000 people have started internships in more than 6,700 organisations since the scheme began in July 2011. Over two-thirds were in private companies, with just over a fifth in the public sector and less than one in ten in community and voluntary organisations.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said a finding that around three in five interns have found paid employment within six months of the scheme was particularly welcome.
"The analysis also shows that there has been a high progression rate into employment of people who had been long-term unemployed prior to taking up internship," he said. "This outcome is key; JobBridge is making a real difference to long-term unemployment."
However, Mr Kenny admitted a lot more needed to be done to create jobs that match the skills and abilities of those on the dole, with training schemes better adapted to the needs of the long-term jobless.