Almost 22,000 applications by companies to take part in the Government’s JobBridge scheme have been rejected since 2012, the Department of Social Protection confirmed.
According to Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, potential host organisations are required to meet specific terms and conditions in order to take part in the job activation scheme. Those that fail to meet the requirements of the scheme are rejected.
Ms Burton said reasons for rejection have included ineligibility as it would displace other workers; the employer required candidates to have experience; a failure to meet the minimum number of paid employees required to be present; or exceeding the quota permitted for the size of the organisation.
Another reason was a failure to supply all of the information required including the specific learning outcomes intended.
In response to a parliamentary question from TD Paul Murphy, the minister also revealed that 12,711 monitoring visits of internships had been carried out between 2012 and 2015 and that 98% of them were found to be fully compliant with the terms and conditions of the scheme.
Nonetheless, she admitted there had been 672 complaints received since the scheme began, representing 1.4% of all internships.
Earlier this month, this newspaper revealed that the Department of Social Protection had reversed its decision to ban all firms where it was alleged that interns had been assaulted and bullied, had their safety compromised or were forced to work unfair hours.
A total of 86 companies had received some form of ban from the scheme since it began in 2011, but no businesses had received suspensions from JobBridge since a November decision to lift the existing suspensions.
It also emerged that between the start of 2014 and the end of March this year, more than 11,000 of the 24,000 who had enrolled on the JobBridge scheme had dropped out early for a variety of reasons.
Meanwhile, Ms Burton has also revealed that almost one in seven people enrolled on the Gateway job activation have dropped out early.
Under the terms of the Gateway initiative, dole claimants who have been on the Live Register for more than two years are paid an extra €20 per week on top of their jobseeker’s allowance to work for local authorities.
An average of 19.5 hours per week is on offer in areas including village enhancement schemes; landscaping; tourism ambassadors; animal control; and libraries.
According to the minister: “As of April 22, the number of participants who commenced on Gateway, since it was introduced in December 2013, is 2,845. To date, a total of 424 persons have left the Gateway scheme prior to completing their 22 month contract.”
She said the departures were due to a number of reasons including “taking up employment, emigration, and participation on the scheme not being financially viable”.
The minister also revealed that 43 people have been disqualified from their social welfare payments for up to nine weeks for refusing to take part in the Gateway initiative.
Legislation provides that penalties in the form of reduced payments may be imposed by the department where jobseekers fail, without good cause, to comply with activation measures such as Gateway.
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