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29th Jan 2013

Working For Free? The Government Is Considering Some Changes To The JobBridge Scheme

Payment or no payment? That is the question...

Participants in the JobBridge scheme could end up working for free under changes being considered by the Irish Government.

The Irish Times reports that the national internship scheme could be extended to allow participants with no social welfare entitlements to take up internships as a means of gaining experience. These participants would not recieve any kind of payment from the State.

At present, only people who recieve social welfare are entitled to take part in the scheme. These people recieve a €50 allowance every week, on top of their welfare payments for internships that last from six to nine months.

However, a new report obtained by the Irish Times regarding the JobBridge scheme does state that the Government should give consideration “to paying the €50 weekly JobBridge allowance to the small number of participants without basic welfare.”

The scheme itself has caused a lot of differing opinions

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Joan Burton, the Minister for Social Protection, said that the report contained various recommendations that will be examined by the department with a view to implementing them at a later stage.

The possibility that some JobBridge interns could be expected to work for free will most likely add to the criticism that the internship scheme has received from groups like the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party claims that some employers are guilty of exploiting the scheme and using it as a cheap source of labour.

However, Joan Burton has previously quoted from an independent report on the scheme which was done last October and which found that over half of those who completed their internship did go on to find work.

As it stands, a total of 12,300 people have taken part in the JobBridge scheme since it was launched in July 2011.