Farmer defends €50 JobBridge offer for a 30-hour week collecting potatoes
A FARMER has advertised for an internship on the controversial JobBridge Scheme – to gather potatoes.
Patrick Doherty says the successful candidate for the position will be required to work 30 hours per week to receive an extra €50 on top of their dole.
The 'job' at Doherty Potatoes Limited has been criticised by those who think the scheme should be scrapped.
But Mr Doherty, from Bridgend in Co Donegal, has defended the scheme and his advert for a 'Potato Farm Labourer'. He plans to spend €1,200 training the successful candidate to drive a forklift and hopes to keep them on.
Asked about criticism of it, he said: "The spud industry this year is a total disaster. I've just sent out a tonne of Maris Pipers for €160.
"That wouldn't cover the cost of the diesel but we have no choice, we have to get rid of them. Last year was a great year so everyone decided they'd do spuds this year and there's far too many.
"The job would involve doing everything to do with the business, from gathering spuds, grading them and packing them. You'd have to be able to do everything because that's the way it is, in here (the stores) or out in the fields, lifting or spraying or whatever."
He added: "Sure you'll always get criticism."
The position, advertised on the official JobBridge website, offers the prospective intern "practical experience in grading and packing potatoes, taking orders and deliveries and driving a forklift".
It also promised formal and informal training in "quality control" of potatoes.
The successful applicant will be taken on for nine months and must have education to Junior Certificate level.
But Donegal TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn criticised the advertisement.
"This is surely seasonal work and it's hard to see a pathway to a full-time employment in it," he said.
"I appreciate many businesses are struggling and trying to eke out positions for people but I'm afraid there have been far too many examples of positions like this being advertised."
He added: "The Government would claim Jobbridge has been a success but we feel they are just massaging the jobless numbers and there's a real fear that a lot of young people are out there on schemes which won't lead to a real job at the end."