LOCAL Junior Minister Seán Sherlock has refuted claims that schools seeking teachers via the JobBridge scheme is "exploitation."
Minister Sherlock, whose brief covers the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills, was speaking following controversy surrounding JobBridge ads seeking teachers in Aherla and Baltydaniel, the latter of which has since been removed from the site.
Speaking to The Corkman, teacher's union the INTO described the scheme as "exploitation," a description Minister Sherlock has challenged.
He cited a memo issued by the Department of Education in December 2011.
"The scheme may not be used to displace existing staff or to fill a current vacancy, but any positions may be offered to newly qualified teachers, allowing them to complete the probationary process and become fully registered with the Teaching Council," the memo read.
Minister Sherlock said the scheme presented newly qualified teachers with opportunities.
"I don't see how it is exploiting anyone if it is done with a view to giving experience to newly qualified teachers as long as they are not displacing anyone or assuming a role that could be filled by the hiring of a new permanent teacher," he said.
However, Sinn Fein Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien said the scheme was "demeaning" to teachers.
"One position advertised on the JobsBridge website for a school in Mallow was for a year's internship for an applicant with a teacher training degree who would be expected to deliver the school curriculum and perform a range of additional duties for €50 a week," he said.
"This treatment of teachers demeans this most important profession. It has been introduced by a government that has imposed punitive cuts to wages, pensions and allowances across the teaching sector and shows a level of contempt that is very worrying.
"These internships are an attempt by the Department of Education and Skills to employ highly skilled teachers for next to nothing.
"It comes at that when the casualisation of work practises is forcing thousands of newly qualified teachers to emigrate to find work abroad and I challenge the Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn to give his views on this matter," Deputy O'Brien said.