Firms face payments for trainees

Employers may be asked to pay social welfare payments for trainees working in their firm under a Government- backed scheme which is placing two in every three interns in jobs.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has admitted the Government is still battling to reduce unemployment as new figures showed the number of people signing on the Live Register fell by just 100 in April to 426,900.

She said 17,000 people had passed through the JobBridge scheme, which places the jobless in training in firms, since its inception in 2011.

The independent review of the scheme found 61% of interns progressed to paid employment after completing internships. The review suggested that employers pay trainees to help save the exchequer money.

JobBridge has cost the State over €10m to date but the Government claims it makes a net saving as the scheme keeps people from being long-term unemployed.

The review said the internship scheme was producing value for money if people remained off the Live Register for six months.

However, the review warned of the need to do more for people without a university degree.

Almost two thirds of participants accepted on to JobBridge have third-levelqualifications and above.

Particular concerns were flagged about the lack of lower-skilled people, who are most at risk of unemployment, being given internships.

Consultants have also called for JobBridge to cut down on “potential deadweight” — those who are well-qualified and more likely to get employment without taking part in the scheme.

Almost half of those signing up with JobBridge are aged between 25 to 34.

Some 74% of those who found work said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the scheme.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised JobBridge and said it helped make the Live Register a “resource” for employers to access talent and had been effective helping the long-term unemployed.

Ms Burton admitted up to 15 employers were removed from the scheme after it was found they were replacing paid employees with unpaid interns.

She also said she was in touch with her colleagues in other departments to ensure that future large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the building of schools, use people from the Live Register.

She also said she wants a larger stimulus package created for the economy out of the savings expected to be generated from the recent deal on the promissory note for Anglo Irish Bank.


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