Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, has said that he is satisfied that all efforts are being made to prevent employers from exploiting participants of the JobBridge Internship Scheme. Deputy Lawlor has received assurances on the matter from the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton.
“There have been widespread negative reports about the JobBridge programme since it was introduced back in July. Concerns have been raised that the scheme could be open to abuse, and that employers could use it in an exploitative manner.
“I raised these concerns with the Minister and she has given me comprehensive assurances that checks and balances are in place to ensure the scheme is being fairly run. Each placement is based on a Standard Internship Agreement, which must be signed between the intern and the host organisation. This acts as a contract, and clearly sets out the terms of the internship.
“To make sure the terms of this agreement are being adhered to, the JobBridge team is closely monitoring internships. Monthly compliance reports must be completed and random site visits will soon begin as part of the process. The Scheme also contains a whistleblowing feature, which allows anyone who suspects an internship may be in breach of the rules to raise their concerns by ringing the National Call Centre.
“I am urging anyone who is unemployed and seeking re-entry to the workforce to put aside any concerns and apply for an internship. As of last week, 2,800 organisations had advertised positions on the Scheme with a total of 5,600 internship opportunities being made available.
“However just under 1,800 individuals have started an internship. There is clearly plenty of capacity within the system. The assurances I have received from the Minister should alleviate any concerns and I hope this will encourage more people to use the scheme to take their first step back into the workforce.”