The Government's JobBridge programme must be dissolved and replaced with a more targeted approach, a new report has said.
The report 'JobBridge - time to start again?' recommends that the scheme should not be used in the public sector until such a time as the employment embargo is lifted as the scheme was "clouding" the need for new posts that exists.
And it calls for the programme to be removed from "low-paid areas" in the private sector, warning that it was being used to replace entry level jobs.
The report, which was unveiled at the Impact education conference in Galway, calls for a targeted four-pronged approach to finding jobs.
These should be tailored to the long-term unemployed, the under 25s, graduates and wider open market internships.
It warns that JobBridge has changed the way employers think about employment and entry level jobs.
Dr Mary Murphy, of NUI Maynooth, who carried out the research, said unpaid internships were becoming pervasive and were now the acceptable route into employment.
The report found interns were not covered under social insurance in the case of a workplace accident and reveals that 30pc of employers would have hired staff even without the JobBridge scheme.