Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Employment Dara Calleary says the JobBridge scheme should be scrapped and replaced with a new model, which would offer better terms and conditions for interns in the workplace.

New figures, published in the Sunday Business Post, reveal that the scheme has led to a high number of paid jobs, across a range of workplaces, being displaced.

Deputy Calleary explained, “JobBridge has been an abusive, unfair scheme for many young people who are attempting to get on the career ladder, and it has been a disaster for social mobility. I raised concerns about the possible exploitation of young people by certain employers, when this scheme was first introduced, and this is exactly what has happened.

“This investigation provides evidence of how the scheme facilitated the expansion of unpaid work placements, which in many cases lead to the displacement of previously paid roles across both public and private sector companies.

“As part of Fianna Fáil’s commitment to creating decent jobs and protecting the rights of young people in internships we will introduce legislation that provides clarity on employment rights governing internships and work experience.  In line with current employment legislation, if an intern is doing work of value to the employer, or has a similar level of supervision and responsibility as the rest of the workforce, then he or she should be paid at least the minimum wage.

“It is widely recognised that there is a role for unpaid internships which provide education and training for students as well as experience in the workplace. However, even in these cases we believe that there should be a four week limit on unpaid internships in order to discourage and guard against the potential exploitation of unpaid workers by employers”.