News Thomas Molloy

Sunday 21 September 2014

The scheme is working and getting vital experience for jobseekers

Published 15/07/2014 | 02:30

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JOBBRIDGE is one of the Government's better ideas. Research shows the popular back-to-work scheme really is helping job seekers get a foot on the employment ladder.

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Business also likes this practical scheme because it gives companies a bit of encouragement when it comes to taking on new staff while avoiding permanent commitments when times are still uncertain.

It is easy to see why some believe that allowing government departments to use JobBridge workers is wrong when the civil service has a ban on hiring staff. But it is difficult to argue that it breaks the Government's own rules or the spirit of the initiative. JobBridge's ambition is simple; to give job seekers the chance to gain some work experience.

By hiring people from the Live Register to work in government departments, the State is doing its bit to help break the cycle of unemployment even if it cannot recruit any of the young job seekers from the scheme.

Still, there is an argument for caution. Anybody who has lived in Washington DC or Brussels will know that these capitals are full of young graduates working for nothing in the offices of Congressmen and MEPs.

Both cities would grind to a halt without this army of unpaid labour but there is a dark side; Monica Lewinsky was only one of many unpaid interns to owe her position to her parents' wealth and end up being exploited by her boss.

Internships offer a real chance to gain experience but a society or an organisation that comes to depend on unpaid labour to recruit people into real jobs later excludes many talented individuals who cannot afford long summers living in expensive cities and no salary.

It can also mean that the public sector attracts less talented graduates while the high-fliers head to Wall Street and the private sector where internships can quickly lead to proper jobs.

JobBridge is part of the answer to our unemployment crisis but it will, and should, only ever be a part of the solution.

Irish Independent

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