Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mythen calls for action on flawed Job Bridge Programme

An Enniscorthy Councillor has called for an investigation into why the governments Job Bridge programme is not working and into the possible flagrant abuse of the scheme by some employers. Sinn Féin Cllr Johnny Mythen said that recent figures released showing that only one fifth of those who have taken part in Job Bridge Internships actually get full time employment was a damning indictment of a scheme that is given such credibility by our government. He publically requested that the minister of social protection Joan Burton take immediate steps and, through her department, review the job bridge programme.

“The initial concept of this programme was to allow unemployed people to gain experience in the work place, thus enhancing their chances of gaining full employment,” Cllr Mythen said, “However its plain to see that some employers are using the scheme to replace permanent workers with these internships and are using highly skilled workers to provide professional quality services for less than the minimum wage. It has become common place to hear about highly skilled jobs being offered as internship places. Recently you will have seen intern offers for architects, solicitors and physiotherapists.”

“It seems strange that these highly skilled individuals are now only worth taking on for nine months and only worth supplementing their social welfare with an extra €50 a week for services rendered. Last Christmas a major retailer operating in this county took on over one hundred interns to man the floors of their shops during the bust festive period. They broke no laws by doing so but it seems strange that major companies like this would be unable to pay take these interns on as full employees and pay them the minimum wage.”

“Without appropriate policing and proper regulation from the Minister and her department this job bridge scheme will fail. In its present form it is rich pickings for unscrupulous employers who are exploiting the valuable ideas and know-how of internees and who are undermining the very purpose that the jobs bridge programme was created for. The minister and the department of social protection must act as a watch dog now before it is too late. They must not allow employers to use this scheme as a cheap means to replace traditional seasonal jobs with cheap internships.”

“A public investigation is needed to determine exactly how well the Job Bridge programme is working, what its fundamental flaws are and what level of exploitation of interns is occurring. The successful transition of only one fifth of internees to full time employment is simply not good enough when so much is resting on this programmes success. New comprehensive regulations are required to address the apparent abuse of the scheme by a minority of ruthless employers who would exploit workers when they are at their most vulnerable.”

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