As the Deputy will be aware, JobBridge, the National Internship scheme, provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors. It is targeted at individuals who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months (78 Days). The JobBridge scheme has made significant progress since it came into operation. 14,888 internships had commenced by 21 February 2013 with 5,790 participants on an internship and 2,241 internship opportunities advertised on www.jobbridge.ie as of that date.
In order to assess the impact of JobBridge and to determine if the scheme should be modified to make it more effective, the Department commissioned an independent evaluation of the scheme by Indecon International Economic Consultants. Indecon’s interim report (published on 5 October, 2012) states that 61% of JobBridge finishers progressed into employment with either their host organisation or another employer within 5 months of finishing their internship. This progression rate compares very favourably with European averages for such schemes and confirms that JobBridge is an appropriate labour market intervention.
Satisfaction rates for JobBridge among employers and jobseekers are also high with surveys finding that 89.3% of interns felt JobBridge had given them new skills and improved their chances of gaining employment and 96% of host organisations indicating that they would recommend JobBridge to other employers.
The success of the scheme to date is due at least in part to the contribution made by employers in hosting interns. While the host organisation gains from the work, skills and talents of the intern, a mutual benefit exists whereby the intern also receives real workplace experience and the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment, skills and talents to a potential employer. In addition, the host organisation is required by the conditions of the JobBridge scheme to make a significant resource commitment to the intern by appointing a mentor and ensuring that the intern receives experience and training of a high quality from their internship. This commitment by the host organisation is subject to on-going monitoring by the Department.
The question as to whether a host organization should make a financial contribution to the weekly payments made to interns will be considered by the Department when it receives the final evaluation report from Indecon. It is anticipated that the final evaluation report will be available in the coming weeks.