JobBridge in need of review and reform, despite positive elements, Youth Council report finds
57% satisfied with their internship but only 27% secure full time employment
Internships have a role to play, but only if properly structured and controlled. The JobBridge scheme requires significant reform to enhance the experience of participants and increase progression into secure employment.
That’s according to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) report JobBridge: Stepping Stone or Dead End?launched today (24.02.15) in Dublin. The study explores the views and experiences of young people aged 18-25 who participated in the National Internship Scheme, JobBridge.
Speaking at today’s launch, author of the report James Doorley, NYCI deputy director said: “The scheme has been the subject of much political debate, public comment and press attention. However, we wanted to get behind the headlines and engage directly with the real experts , that is, the participants on the scheme themselves.”
The study provides data and analysis on young people’s experiences of JobBridge. Some of the key figures reveal:
There have been 36,434 participants in scheme – of whom 10,125 were under 25 years of age (up to January 2015)
376 host organisations have taken on 10 or more interns
45% of the 65,686 JobBridge positions advertised have never been filled
Gaining work experience was the primary motivating factor for participation in the scheme
41% stated they were treated like other team members by the host organisation during the internship, however 22% stated they were not
57% indicated they were satisfied with their internship, with 31% dissatisfied
100% dissatisfaction rating among those who stated they were compelled to participate by the Department of Social Protection
45% would recommend JobBridge to another jobseeker, with 31% saying they would not
68% stated that they agreed the scheme gave them valuable work experience
44% agreed however that the internship was used for free labour
While 27% secured full time employment and 14% secured part time employment following their internship, 31% remained unemployed
Interview findings mixed Interviews with participants on the scheme indicated that JobBridge had facilitated them to gain work experience, helped them get out of a rut and provided contacts and networking opportunities. However, the interviews also identified the difficulties many faced meeting the costs of the internship, the lack of mentoring provided, some evidence of abuse of the ‘cooling-off period’ and the lack of rights and lack of clarity on intern rights.
“The findings of this research are mixed, while a majority of participants were satisfied following participation, the research identified a number of deficiencies and a lack of quality. These range from poorly designed internships, inadequate mentoring, instances of unacceptable treatment of interns and lack of rights and clarity on rights. Other issues which emerged included insufficient monitoring, job displacement and inadequate income support. We are also concerned that only 27% secured full time employment,” explained Mr Doorley.
Recommendations NYCI are making ten recommendations* to reform and revise the scheme. These include;
Undertaking an analysis to determine the real contribution of the scheme to employment and employability
Restricting the scheme to those host organisations and sectors where progression to employment is high
Reforming the current monitoring scheme by moving away from checklist approach and towards focus on quality of internships
Immediate action to close loopholes which are facilitating abuse of cooling off period and leading to job displacement
Doubling the existing top up payment from €50 to €100 per week
Calling on the Department of Social Protection to abandon proposals to introduce “First Steps” which is variant of JobBridge which would be mandatory for some young unemployed people
Higher standards needed as economy grows
“JobBridge is providing valuable work experience for some and supporting others into employment: overall, however, the scheme is lacking in quality. As the scheme is being operated by the state and funded by the taxpayer to the tune of €85m a year, we should demand and expect much higher standards and much better results.
“As the economy grows and employment recovers it is vital that we provide jobseekers quality work experience opportunities. It is also crucial that schemes such as JobBridge do not lead to job displacement and undermine the availability of the entry level jobs that many young people depend on to start their career. We must ensure that JobBridge is a stepping stone into employment and not just another dead end,” concluded Mr Doorley.
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a member-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie
Summary report of finding and recommendations (20pp) and complete report (110pp) available at: youth.ie/JobBridge
Twitter: @nycinews #nycireport #jobbridge
The research underpinning this report consists of a quantitative online questionnaire, completed by 84 respondents who had participated in the JobBridge scheme; complemented by qualitative semistructured interviews with seven JobBridge participants.
The NYCI also commissioned Red C Poll on attitudes of youngpeople to JobBridge: On behalf of NYCI, Red C conducted 412 face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of young people aged 18-25 throughout Ireland from the 17th June to 6th July 2014.
More detail on methodology is available in the full report at youth.ie/JobBridge
*FULL LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS:
NYCI recommends that JobBridge should be reformed and revised to enhance the experience of participants, improve quality and increase progression into secure and sustainable employment.
1. Contribution to Employment
An analysis of JobBridge should be undertaken with the inclusion of a control group to determine the actual contribution of scheme to employment and employability.
2. Promoting Progression
The scheme should only be open to host organisations and sectors of the economy that demonstrate high levels of progression to employment.
3. Monitoring for Quality
The current monitoring system should be reformed with a greater emphasis on quality. It should also incorporate feedback from interns and primarily be directed at host organisations and sectors with higher levels of dissatisfaction.
4. Curtailing Abuse of Cooling Off The Department of Social Protection should enhance monitoring of compliance with the cooling off period to prevent job displacement.
5. Top Up-Payment
The weekly top-up payment for all participants on the JobBridge scheme should be doubled to €100 a week.
6. Charter of Rights for Interns
A Charter of Rights for Interns should be developed in consultation with former and current interns which outlines their rights in relation to issues such as time off, holiday period, expenses, rights when ill/injured, force majeure leave, insurance, mentoring and support, treatment by host organisations. This Charter should be put on a statutory basis by means of primary or secondary legislation.
7. Mandatory Internships
Participation in JobBridge should remain voluntary and the Department of Social Protection should ensure no young person is compelled to participate. Proposals from Government to introduce a mandatory variant of the scheme for 1,500 long term unemployed young people should be abandoned.
8. Advertising Internships
Proposed internship advertisements should be subject to greater scrutiny and host organisations should be required to confirm that internship will largely match position advertised. Where significant changes are made this should only be done with agreement of both intern and host organisation and approval by Department of Social Protection.
A review of the mentoring process should be undertaken. The Department of Social Protection should organise workshops on mentoring to provide greater guidance and training on the role and duties of host organisations. Attendance at these workshops should be compulsory for persons appointed as mentors.
10. Support for Interns
The Department of Social Protection should organise regional or sectoral meetings/group engagements for interns to provide information and allow interns to seek advice/support on their placement. These meetings could also serve as a means to facilitate feedback from interns to improve the quality and monitoring of the scheme.