Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ceisteanna (104)

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

108 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will respond to the issues regarding the JobBridge scheme and internships in respect of a person (details supplied). [23370/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Social Protection)

The National Internship Scheme was launched on 1st July 2011. It provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals on the Live Register, at all skills levels. The aim of JobBridge is to assist individuals in breaking the cycle where they are unable to get a job without experience. It provides them with an opportunity to gain valuable experience, relevant knowledge and skills within a working environment. The Scheme is open to organisations in the private, public and community or voluntary sectors.

The Scheme has made significant progress to-date. 6,842 jobseekers have commenced their internship since 1st July 2011. There are currently 4,670 jobseekers undertaking internship opportunities. In addition, there are 1,876 internship opportunities available across a wide number of occupational sectors and geographic areas being hosted on the JobBridge website www.jobbridge.ie.

The eligibility to access the National Internship Scheme is based on the overall objective of labour market policy in ensuring a pathway to appropriate employment, training and education opportunities for those on the Live Register. It is important that as employment opportunities become available they are taken up by those on the Live Register.

Given the scale of the unemployment crisis, the key objective of labour market policy and of the NEAP will be to keep those on the Live Register close to the Labour Market and prevent the drift into long-term unemployment. This will ensure that Live Register members availing of activation measures such as the National Internship Scheme will, while retaining social welfare unemployment payments and a top up allowance of €50, get an opportunity to engage in the workplace, get work experience and so be in a position to avail of employment opportunities as the economy improves.

For these reasons, it has been proposed as a matter of public policy that eligibility for the scheme be confined to those on the Live Register and in receipt of jobseekers allowance/benefit payments or signing for credits for 78 days of the last 6 months. Time spent of certain government sponsored training may also be taken into account when calculating eligibility. As such, the policy objective is to prioritise scarce resources to those on the Live Register so as to increase their chances of leaving it thereby ensuring a reduction in Exchequer costs over time.

Provided that an individual can fulfil all Jobbridge eligibility criteria regarding jobseekers allowance/benefit, persons in part-time employment can participate in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme provided that their employer is not the provider of the internship. The intern must advise their local Social Welfare office of their continued part-time employment while undertaking an internship.

A standard Internship working week will range from 30-40 hours per week. Therefore an intern will be required to participate on the scheme for a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 40 hours per week. Hence, an additional requirement is that the part-time employment does not interfere with the minimum weekly hours (thirty) of the internship.

My Department continues to monitor and review the operation of the JobBridge scheme including its eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis.