Since it came into operation on 1 July 2011, significant progress in the JobBridge scheme saw 13,960 internships commence by 24 January 2013. There are 5,563 interns on the scheme, with a further 1,888 internships advertised on www.jobbridge.ie.
The Department verifies the suitability of internships before they are advertised to ensure they will provide real work experience to enable an intern to develop new skills that will enhance the intern's ability to secure employment. As such, the Department expects interns to be given real and substantial experience of the host organisation's workplace so the intern is seen by future potential employers as having had real work experience, including real responsibility and accountability.
It is a matter for the host organisation, including in this case An Garda Síochána, to determine if the work involved is appropriate to the intern, taking account of its business needs, including confidentiality and sensitivity of the information to which they will have access, be that commercially sensitive information in the case of a private sector organisation, publicly sensitive information in the case of a public sector organisation or personal information. The duty of care of all host organisations in respect of sensitive and confidential information and in respect of training and proper protocols with regard to access to and use of this information extends to people on internship programmes.
In the case of the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána, as is the case for all of the Civil Service, the requirements of the Official Secrets Act apply to all workers, including interns recruited under JobBridge. It is an offence under section 4 of this Act to disclose information obtained in the course of work unless this disclosure is duly authorised.
I am informed that An Garda Síochána has hosted 13 interns for positions including general office administrator receptionist, project accountant, legal policing researcher and graphic designer.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Of those 13 interns, eight were assigned to duties in the Garda vetting unit, of whom six have completed their internship and two are on placement. The Department has received assurances from the Department of Justice and Equality that these interns were not involved in conducting vetting checks on vetting applicants nor had they access to these data. These interns were engaged in a clerical capacity only.
While the moratorium on recruitment in the Civil Service means that interns cannot progress to a job in the Civil Service, it is clear from the Indecon report on JobBridge that experience in the public sector is very valuable and progression rates are good. The Deputy will know that the Department, as part of its ongoing work to protect the intern and to ensure the integrity of the JobBridge scheme, has introduced a variety of control measures and criteria. Among these measures is the ongoing monitoring of internships by the Department of Social Protection. This involves the regular review of monthly compliance reports and the conducting of random monitoring site visits to ensure the host and intern are abiding by the terms and conditions of the scheme.
In 2012, two monitoring visits were conducted on internships within An Garda Síochána, and one monitoring visit was conducted on internships within the Department of Justice and Equality. In all three cases, the monitoring report found the internships to have been conducted in a satisfactory manner.