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bridge of sighs

JobBridge is officially to be scrapped, but what will replace it?

The oft-controversial internship scheme is to be discontinued by new social protection minister Leo Varadkar.

18/01/2014. Protest at Advance Pitstop over JobBri Laura Hutton / Rollingnews.ie Laura Hutton / Rollingnews.ie / Rollingnews.ie

THIS MORNING IT emerged that JobBridge, the state’s oft-controversial internship scheme for the unemployed, is set to be discontinued after five years.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent social protection minister Leo Varadkar confirmed that the scheme is to be scrapped.

It’s understood that the scheme will eventually be replaced by another that is more fit for purpose. This will not be before the end of September however.

Fine Gael’s new TD for Dublin North West Noel Rock, himself just 28 and of an age with many people who would have first-hand experience of JobBridge, welcomed the move today as a ‘sign of progress’.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie Rock said that “the fact that unemployment is coming down and people are finding jobs themselves meant it is time we looked at things afresh”.

“Looking at things anew is a good sign from the point of view of the new government,” he said.

There were too many vagaries associated with JobBridge. Some people benefited from it, but another cohort were somewhat misused by it, and it became too familiar a refrain.

Asked if he thought the name JobBridge had become toxic, Rock replied that “the name was toxic because the behaviour associated with it was toxic”.

Secretary of the Impact trade union (which had consistently called for the scheme to be scrapped) Shay Cody meanwhile welcomed the news, but insisted that much consultation must go into the establishment of a replacement scheme.

“There should be discussions with employer organisations and the unions with regard to whatever replaces it,” he said.

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JobBridge was very much a product of the job market from five years ago. There is a role for giving people suitable experience. But that role should certainly not be modeled on JobBridge.

“The way the system was operating wasn’t acceptable,” said Rock.

We can’t be displacing existing labour, with people being let go and an intern then taking over. That’s not fair and it’s not right.
What we need is a set of very specific, time-bound internships, and no more of the likes of a JobBridge deli assistant for example,” he said, adding that most people can learn a role “after eight weeks”.

“At that stage you should either hire a person or let them seek a role elsewhere.”

Rock says that “a broad consensus” within Fine Gael, or those who were familiar with JobBridge, recognised that its time was up.

It’s understood that any replacement scheme will see the term length of internships reduced significantly from the six-to-nine month span currently in place.

Those on existing JobBridge schemes will be allowed to finish their placement meanwhile.

Read: ‘Completely unacceptable’: 21-week wait for carer’s allowance claims to be processed

Read: Justin Bieber could teach our government a thing or two about healthcare

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