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The JobBridge €50 top-up won't be increased, here's why

The National Youth Council of Ireland thinks “significant reform” of the internship scheme is needed.

Joan Burton and Enda Kenny at the launch of a JobBridge report in 2013.
Joan Burton and Enda Kenny at the launch of a JobBridge report in 2013.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated: 17.05, 25 February

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the weekly top-up payment to JobBridge interns won’t be doubled, as recommended by the National Youth Council of Ireland.

In a report released yesterday, the NYCI made several recommendations it feels would improve the scheme – including doubling the top-up received to €100 per week.

A spokesperson for the Department told us:

It is not possible to increase the top-up payment at the moment – for a person on €188 per week, a top-up payment of €100 for a 30-hour week would be more than the minimum wage and close to circa €12 per hour gross.

The NYCI described this response as “disappointing”, noting Tanáiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton had previously said an increase was a possibility.

A spokesperson stated that 58.5% of people under the age of 25 receive a weekly social welfare payment of €100 or €144 before JobBridge, not €188.

Burton again defended the scheme today, after it was criticised by Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy.

Yesterday, the NYCI said ”significant reform” of JobBrdge is needed to “enhance the experience of participants and increase progression into secure employment”, according to the NYCI.

The organisation’s report JobBridge: Stepping Stone or Dead End? explores the experiences of people aged 18-25 years who have participated in the scheme.

Since it was launched in July 2011, over 37,000 internship placements have commenced. There are currently 6,194 interns on the programme and a further 1,300 or so positions are advertised on the JobBridge website.

Satisfaction

The scheme is aimed at those who have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for at least three months. Participants in the scheme get an extra €50 per week on top of their social welfare payment.

Some 376 host organisations have taken on 10 or more interns and 45% of the 65,686 JobBridge positions advertised have never been filled.

Of those surveyed by the NYCI, 57% indicated they were satisfied with their internship, however 44% said they thought the scheme was used for free labour.

ncyi satisfaction Source: NYCI

27% of people interviewed by the NYCI secured full-time employment and 14% secured part-time employment following their internship, 31% remained unemployed.

Speaking at the launch of the report, its author James Doorley said that issues such as insufficient monitoring, job displacement and inadequate income support were raised by participants.

JobBridge is providing valuable work experience for some and supporting others into employment: overall, however, the scheme is lacking in quality. As the scheme is being operated by the state and funded by the taxpayer to the tune of €85 million a year, we should demand and expect much higher standards and much better results.

ncyi job 1 Source: NYCI

The NYCI has made a number of recommendations which it thinks will improve the scheme, including:

  • Doubling the existing top-up payment from €50 to €100 per week
  • Restricting the scheme to those host organisations and sectors where progression to employment is high
  • Reforming the current monitoring scheme by moving away from checklist approach and towards focus on quality of internships
  • Immediate action to close loopholes which are facilitating abuse of cooling off period and leading to job displacement

The Department of Social Protection welcomed the publication of the report. A spokesperson noted that the study focused on the experiences of 18-24 year olds, who account for “approximately 27% of JobBridge participants”, adding: “On balance, the quantitative data in the report is positive.”

Considering recommendations

The spokesperson also referred to the independent evaluation of the JobBridge scheme, conducted in 2013, which found that three in five participants secured employment following their internship.

The evaluation showed that 61% of interns progress to paid employment after completing their internship. The 61% progression rate for JobBridge is among the best in Europe, where progression rates for similar internship schemes average just 34%.

A second independent review will be conducted later this year.

Junior minister Kevin Humphreys told TheJournal.ie he has met with JobBridge interns “who have completely changed their career and successfully use the JobBridge scheme to combat the problem of not being able to get a job without experience nor experience without a job”.

“Research shows the longer you are out of work, the harder is to get back to work. JobBridge is designed to break that cycle and the report from the NYCI shows that this approach works,” Humphreys said.

The Department said it will give consideration to the NYCI recommendations that refer to mentoring and support for interns.

Originally published: 13.28, 24 February

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Órla Ryan

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