Saturday 25 January 2020

'Far from perfect' JobBridge scheme to be scrapped - Leo Varadkar

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Damien Eagers
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Damien Eagers
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

JobsBridge, the controversial internship scheme, will cease to accept new applicants from Friday.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has announced that he is to set-up a consultation process with a view to finding a replacement programme which will begin in the middle of next year.

The minister was speaking at the publication of a new report on JobsBridge which found that while most participants had a positive experience, the scheme was abused by some employers.

The report by Indecon International Research Economists in association with London Economics found that JobBridge has served its purpose.

It recommends a new programme with a stronger focus on skills, paying at least the minimum wage, and focusing on those unemployed for at least six months.

“The Indecon report shows that JobBridge has helped around two thirds of participants, some 38,000 unemployed people from all age groups, to re-enter the jobs market. Although it was far from perfect, looked at in the round, it was a real success,” Mr Varadkar said.

JobBridge was launched in 2011 at the height of the economic crash and involved unemployed people getting a €50 top-up on their dole payments if they took part in an internship.

However, the programme was heavily criticised and faced accusations that young people were exploited by some employers.

Indecon surveyed 10,500 participants and undertook a detailed econometric analysis of employment outcomes, by comparing JobBridge participants to a matched group of non-participants.

It found that participants on the programme improved their employment outcomes by 32pc compared to a matched group of non-participants.

Overall 79pc of participants – about 38,000 people - have had some spell of employment since completing the programme.

Some 64pc of participants are still in work and a further 10pc in further education.

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