Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue says he’s outraged that the Department of Education is allowing teachers and Special Needs Assistants to be recruited through the Government’s JobBridge scheme.
His comments come following reports that 182 people have taken up employment in the education system in the past month under the controversial back to work programme. While the advertisements for teaching jobs require a third level qualification, no experience is needed to apply for the SNA posts.
Deputy McConalogue said, “Fianna Fáil has questioned the validity of the JobBridge scheme since it was introduced three years ago, but the recruitment of interns to fill educational posts is not only exploitative, it also raises serious questions. While I support getting people back to work it should not be at the expense of paying legitimate wages to qualified people who are available to fill these positions in the education sector.
“The Department is effectively attempting to replace highly skilled, trained and experienced Special Needs Assistants with interns, while paying these JobBridge participants well below the recognised SNA and teaching rates.
“My Fianna Fáil colleague Senator Marc Mac Sharry raised this issue last month after he was contacted by an SNA who was losing her job because of budget reallocations. Up until this year, “classroom assistant” posts were advertised on the JobBridge site. These roles were essentially the same as an SNA post. When it was brought to the attention of the Department that the position of “Classroom Assistant” did not exist within the Irish education system it claimed that arrangements were being put in place to remove all of these posts from the JobBridge website, however 3 jobs are still being advertised on the Department’s own website in the “Find a Job” section today.
“We have to prevent a race to the bottom when it comes to education. I am calling on the Minister to discontinue the practice of advertising educational posts as part of the JobBridge scheme. Teachers and SNAs should not be forced to take up positions for lower pay than their colleagues, yet our education system is facilitating this exploitation. Minister O’Sullivan needs to urgently address this issue to ensure a fair and safe system for educators and students”.