The JobBridge programme is to be extended after a successful first ten months, with a number of internships currently available in Longford.
Last week, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton announced a further 1,000 places would be made available on the programme and widened the eligibility criteria for the scheme due to its success since its introduction on July first last year.
Those in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment and Disability Allowance will be able to apply for internships on the scheme from May 28.
According to the Department of Social Protection, the scheme has made significant progress to date. In the ten months since the scheme was launched 6,840 internships have started. The initial target provided for a maximum of 5,000 places at any point in time but this announcement will increase that to 6,000.
Longford man, Martin Stapleton has been on a JobBridge internship with the Co Westmeath Enterprise Board since November. Having been made redundant from MBNA in Carrick-on-Shannon in September 2010 after seven years with the company, Martin struggled to find other employment.
“This has brought me on in leaps and bounds; I’ve been very lucky to get a place with the Enterprise Board and they have treated me like a real employee, and that’s been very important in that I do tasks that allow me to improve,” Martin told the Leader.
Much of the criticism directed at the JobBridge scheme concerns the potential for companies to exploit workers for cheap labour. While Martin agrees it is unlikely he will be kept on by the Enterprise Board when his internship ends in August, he feels the experience is a worthwhile one. He was, however, critical of the €240 (Jobseeker’s allowance plus an additional €50) that people on the scheme receive. “It’s a full week’s work for very little money but you just hope it will lead to a job down the road.”
Preliminary data from the interns who ended their placements in recent months indicates that some 797 interns, on the immediate completion of their internship, have gone into employment with either their JobBridge host organisation or another company. This data does not take account of an intern who may have secured employment in the subsequent weeks or months after completing their internship.
445 people have started internships in the Midlands region since the scheme began, with 150 vacancies posted for the region at present. 11 of these are for Longford with a diverse range of options available including opportunities as a chef, in tourism marketing and a role as a quality technician posted on the site.
Since 1 January 2012, companies who employ interns can avail of the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme which exempts employers from liability to pay their share of PRSI for certain employees. It is expected this will provide an additional boost to JobBridge.
In a statement, Minister Burton said: “The initial data suggests that it has been very successful in meeting the objectives we initially set and it is making a real contribution to helping unemployed people re-engage with the workplace.”