JobBridge: decision to abolish scheme welcome, time for fresh start says Youth Council
Report findings also welcome. Radical reform of work experience programme long overdue – vital to ensure there is no JobBridge ‘Mark Two’
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents groups working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar that the JobBridge scheme is to be abolished, made yesterday (18.10.2016) at the launch of a review of the scheme.
James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director said: “NYCI welcomes the decision to abolish the JobBridge scheme. We have long called for radical reform of the scheme and for Government to provide a high quality and well-regulated work experience programme, in particular to address the needs of young people seeking to enter the labour market.
“The decision of the Minister to close JobBridge is welcome, even if it could be argued this decision could have been taken 2 or 3 years ago as that the flaws and deficiencies in the scheme were evident then.
“Now we have the opportunity to press the reset button and develop a new workplace experience programme which is high quality, well-regulated and more focused on the needs of the participants and supports their progression to employment, particularly young people seeking to get into the labour market and the long-term unemployed,” added Mr Doorley.
Reacting to the findings of the review of the scheme Mr Doorley said: “Many of the findings in the report undertaken by Indecon Economic Consultants on behalf of the Department of Social Protection closely mirror the findings of a study published by NYCI in February 2015 entitled ‘JobBridge – stepping stone or dead end?’.
“70% of the respondents in this study stated that JobBridge provided valuable work experience, compared to 68% in the NYCI study. Likewise, 31% in both studies were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the scheme.
“While the progression to employment after participation in the scheme is good at 64%, it is lower for young people and the long-term unemployed. This must be addressed in the new programme.
“There were high levels of dissatisfaction with the low levels of payment provided under the scheme, which is no surprise given that many young people under 26 are receiving a payment of €152.50 for up to 40 hours work.
“The report also found that only 34% of participants were satisfied with the support from the Department of Social Protection in terms of the internship application process and monitoring of the scheme. The Department needs to address how the scheme is managed and how can better support participants,” continued Mr Doorley.
Targeting those most at need
There are a number of policy recommendations in both the Indecon report and from the Labour Market Council with regard to a new work experience scheme. NYCI welcomed the proposals to better target the scheme at those most in need, to focus on skills development and to enhance the monitoring and regulation of the new programme.
Employers to make financial contribution
“In particular, we welcome the proposals that employers should make a financial contribution to the operation of the scheme and that interns should receive the minimum wage for their contribution.
We also welcome the proposal that the name of any host organisation which abuses the scheme will be published.
“In broad terms the policy recommendations address some of the deficiencies in the scheme which NYCI and others have highlighted and called for action on. We welcome the decision of the Minister to provide for a period of consultation, NYCI will engage constructively to contribute to that debate as much of the shape and detail of the new programme still has to be determined.
“It is important that we develop a scheme which addresses all the flaws in JobBridge, ignoring problems or criticism will not make them go away. It is vital that we do not end up with a JobBridge ‘Mark Two’ and with old wine in new bottles. NYCI is willing to work to develop a radically different scheme, which treats participants with dignity and provides the skills they need to progress into employment and further their career, which has the confidence and support of the public and enhances employment across the country,” concluded Mr Doorley.
National Youth Council of Ireland NYCI is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie