The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has welcomed the launch of ‘Job Bridge- The National Internship Scheme’ which will be formally announced this morning by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. The scheme will provide 5,000 people who are at least three months unemployed with a 6 or 9 month internship in a host organisation.
Whilst on placement, interns will receive an ‘upskilling bonus’ of €50 per week in addition to their social welfare entitlements. This is similar to the ‘equivalency payment’ proposed by USI in their ‘Reigniting the Smart Economy’ policy document and is a very welcome development.
An initial 5,000 internship places on the programme have been approved and USI is encouraging recent graduates who may be struggling to find employment to consider the benefits of the scheme.
Ireland is facing a major jobs and competitiveness crisis. With over 150,000 people expected to emigrate by 2015, we require innovative initiatives like ‘Job Bridge’ that will allow people to remain connected to the labour market and not fall victim to long term unemployment.
Unemployment while young, especially for long periods of time, can cause permanent mental scars rather than temporary blemishes. For the young a spell of unemployment does not end with that spell; it raises the probability of being unemployed in later years and has a wage penalty.
USI President, Gary Redmond, said:
“I’m encouraged to see the government taking proactive steps to curb the jobs crisis. Hopefully this is the first of many initiatives that will allow those struggling to find employment get back on their feet. With over 150,000 people expected to emigrate by 2015, we require more innovative initiatives like ‘Job Bridge’ that will allow people to remain connected to the labour market and not falling victim to long term unemployment.
We have to remember that in today’s global economy, a job can go wherever there is an internet connection. Ireland is competing with countries like India for foreign direct investment and we require a workforce of the highest caliber in order to attract companies to our shores. Those who participate on schemes such as the one announced this morning will greatly improve their employability and will be highly attractive to employers upon completion of their placement.
While I commend the Minister on her efforts, I wish to warn her of the financial dangers those on lower rates of social welfare may face by participating on the scheme. Those without sufficient PRSI credits to claim the full rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit will be earning less than €200 per week and this may result in unnecessary hardship for those wanting to get back up on their feet.”