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Back to Work

Sinn Féin is launching an alternative to JobBridge ... with some American inspiration

The party thinks too many employers abuse the current system.
A tailored scheme with a narrower scope and focus.

THAT’S HOW SINN Féin describes its JobBridge alternative.

The party is proposing shorter internships and placing a greater emphasis on apprenticeships.

In a document, set to be launched at 11am today and seen by, Sinn Féin says its proposals are based on engagement with a number of stakeholders including trade unions such as Mandate, SIPTU and INTO, youth organisations, and JobBridge interns.

1913 Lockout Celebrations Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Aengus Ó Snodaigh Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The party has also taken inspiration from the US Department of Labour, which produced six criteria to govern unpaid internships in 2010. They include ensuring the process is “for the benefit of the intern” and not used to “displace regular employees”.

Under the proposed legislation, companies who have been found in breach of employment law in the previous two years would not be allowed to take on an intern.

The names of all employers participating in the scheme would be open to the public – something Sinn Féin said will “act as an additional incentive to ensure the proper use of the scheme”.

The party said its approach would also “provide recourse and a route to compensation for any person who is exploited in the context of an internship should the employer breach the principles governing the scheme”.

Sinn Féin is proposing that representatives of trade unions, employers, youth sector NGOs and the Department of Social Protection monitor the system to safeguard against its misuse.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh, the party’s spokesperson on social protection, said the approach is focused on “getting people back to work and bringing our young people home”.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly said the current JobBridge system is flawed and needs to be scrapped.

‘Significant progress’

Speaking in the Dáil recently, Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the scheme “has made significant progress since its introduction in July 2011″.

To date, 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.

Jobs Cabinet - Press Briefing. Picture Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Enda Kenny and Joan Burton Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The internship scheme provides work experience opportunities – usually six or nine months – for unemployed people.

It is aimed at those who have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for at least 3 months. Participants in the scheme get an extra €50 per week on top of their social welfare payment.

The Department of Social Protection has said on numerous occasions that measures are in place to prevent employers abusing the system.

Read: Fewer people are doing JobBridge internships than expected

Related: Subway advertise for ‘Sandwich Artist’ intern through JobBridge

Opinion: JobBridge has very vocal critics, but it’s delivering results for thousands of young people

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