Fianna Fáil’s Social Protection Spokesperson, Willie O’Dea TD has welcomed the announcement by Minister Leo Varadkar that no new applications will be accepted onto the Government’s Job Bridge scheme from this Friday.

“This is a welcome decision by the Minister. It has been clear for some time that the scheme wasn’t working the way it was intended to, and that some unforeseen, negative consequences happened.”

“Evidence reported to the Government over the past five years has consistently shown that Job Bridge was causing an exploitation of certain interns, and that in certain circumstances, interns were not getting the best possible training in their pursuit of paid employment.”

“Ireland still requires Government backed internship scheme. Nearly 16% of young people aged 15-24 remain out of the workforce, and properly structured, fair internships can form part of the pathway to paid employment.”

“What must happen now is that the Minister in framing a new internship scheme ensures that the mistakes of Job Bridge are not replicated, and that any learnings gained over the past five years are used in the development of a new scheme.”

“So far the Minister has been slow to release details of his new scheme, but we are very clear that the new scheme must learn from the mistakes of the past.”

“Initial reports that only 2500 places will be made available through the Minister’s new scheme. Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and 2500 places will not be enough to deal with demand.”

“The Government must reach out to the various stakeholders; employer groups, unions, unemployment organisations, and students’ organisations, to ensure that any future scheme has the best interests of interns at its heart, and makes it clear that employers have a duty of care to interns in their employment.”

“While I welcome the announcement today by Minister Varadkar, I am very disappointed that he announced this decision at a public event rather than in Dáil Éireann. The National Parliament should not play second fiddle to Minister Varadkar’s leadership ambitions,” concluded O’Dea.