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Consultant report into controversial JobBridge scheme recommends ‘more reports’

ONE of the key recommendations by consultants looking at the effectiveness of the JobBridge scheme was for further yearly reviews.

Indecon was paid more than €60,000 to carry out the report.

The consultants said an ongoing assessment would gauge the effectiveness and value-for-money of JobBridge.

And they stated the costs - an estimated €80,000 - €100,000 - would be small in relation to "ensuring effective evaluation of this programme".

The report also found that the goverrnment's flagship back-to-work scheme needs to do more for people without a university degree.

Almost two-thirds of participants accepted on to JobBridge have third-level qualifications and above.

Indecon 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.

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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.

The report has also suggested employers - particularly big companies - in some circumstances should pay JobBridge participants, who currently get social welfare and top-up payments.

Those who took part in the scheme and secured a job are earning just over a half (56%) of average wages, according to the independent study.

Around a fifth of participants got work within the organisation where they were doing their work experience, with nearly 17% getting a job elsewhere.

The research suggests those who worked in the private sector were more likely to get employment.

"Unsurprisingly, graduates and those who experienced short-term unemployment prior to their participation are seen to experience the highest progression outcomes as a result of their participation in the scheme," the report states.

It was also found that internships available under JobBridge did not best match vacancies being advertised on the jobs market.

But jobs minister Richard Burton said the evidence shows the majority of employers and interns gain significantly from the scheme.

"I would encourage employers and jobseekers who have not yet considered availing of JobBridge to do so, and see the huge benefits it could bring them," he added.

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