I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 14, 37 and 46 together.
As the Members of the House will be aware, I have already announced that I plan to replace JobBridge with a more targeted scheme later this year. I believe economic and labour market conditions have changed considerably for the better since the scheme was introduced in 2011 and that the time is now right for a much more targeted scheme.
JobBridge has been very successful in meeting its objectives over the past five years. It helped about 19,000 mainly small employers to provide valuable work experience to nearly 48,000 unemployed jobseekers. An independent evaluation of JobBridge published in 2013 found that overall satisfaction levels with the scheme were very high. That was the view of the participants. Two thirds of participants would recommend the scheme to a friend or family member, and levels of abuse of the scheme by employers were comparatively low. Most notably, the evaluation found that 61% of participants progressed into paid employment within a short period of time without completing their internship. As the Deputy will know, that compares most favourably with community employment, CE, and other schemes. This is a very high progression rate and suggests that JobBridge has been instrumental in helping about 30,000 jobseekers to secure employment.
I have asked the Labour Market Council to assist the Department in designing the new scheme. The Labour Market Council includes representatives from the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, INOU, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, IBEC and a number of leading labour market economists.
It is also important that the design of a new scheme be informed by the best evidence possible. It is for this reason that I intend to await the results of a second large-scale evaluation of JobBridge currently under way before finalising the design of any replacement scheme. The results of this evaluation, which is again being undertaken by Indecon, are expected in September and in September I will announce my proposals for a new scheme.