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Plans to extend JobBridge to people with disabilities confirmed

The Minister for Social Protection has said plans to extend the National Internship Scheme to people claiming Disability Allowance should be revealed in the coming weeks.

 Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

PLANS TO EXTEND the Government’s National Internship Scheme to people with disabilities will be outlined in the coming weeks, according to the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

JobBridge, a work experience scheme aimed at those who have been on the live register for at least three months, was launched last June. The Government revealed in February that it had reached its target of 5,000 internship placements being taken up in the first eight months of operation.

Participants receive €50 per week on top of their social welfare payment while undertaking the placement, which is aimed at proving “invaluable experience” to people looking to upskill. However it has also been criticised as a way for some employers to exploit free labour.

The scheme currently offers internships across the areas of IT, logistics, health, education, arts and literature.

As it stands, the scheme is not open to those claiming Disability Allowance – with the Minister saying previously that the focus of the scheme was on reducing the numbers on the live register, and that those with disabilities could instead enroll in schemes like the FÁS Work Placement Programme.

Burton said that her Department was monitoring and reviewing the operation of the JobBridge scheme, including its eligibility criteria, on an ongoing basis. She confirmed that the extension of JobBridge to those in receipt of Disability Allowances formed part of this broader review process, which was now in an “advanced stage”.

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“It is anticipated that I may be in a position to present formal proposals in the coming weeks,” she said.

Column: I’m jobless, so why am I excluded from JobBridge?

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