JobBridge has already been the subject of significant controversy this week after it emerged it was being used to hire a clinical psychologist to work in mental health services in Waterford.
It was also confirmed that the Government is to carry out an external review of JobBridge to look into alleged abuse of the system and whether the economic recovery renders it obsolete.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation has now said it is advising primary teachers looking for work not to do so under JobBridge, saying it is exploitative of workers and “provides no guarantee of future work”. It previously issued a directive to its members in December 2011 not to take part in the work placement scheme.
The teachers’ union pointed out that those who join the scheme will not be paid the standard rate for a teacher. Furthermore, it said the work will not count towards permanent employment or pensions, and teachers who take up the scheme could be cutting themselves off from real employment opportunities.
According to the INTO, paid substitute work or paid fixed-term work is the best way for teachers to gain work experience.
“Recently-qualified graduates who have yet to get regular work should be extremely cautious about joining this scheme,” said the union’s general secretary, Sheila Nunan.
“A teacher signing on for such a scheme could be risking the opportunity to get paid work that arises as the school year progresses.”
Ms Nunan said that there were fewer teaching graduates this year due to an extension of teacher training courses from three years to four. She said, this would increase work opportunities, so teachers should not jump into a JobBridge placement.
The union accused the Government of “exploiting the vulnerability of recently- qualified teachers” and warned of misinformation relating to employment.
“Teachers do not need probation to take up jobs,” said Ms Nunan. “They get jobs and then do their probationary period. Teachers are also being told that they need their probation to get a job abroad. This is not true.
“At present, teachers need to complete a 20-week period of probation in the classroom in order to be fully registered with the Teaching Council.”
Last night there were three listings for ‘teacher’ on the JobBridge website, one more for ‘teacher — art teacher assistant’ and one for ‘pre-school teacher’.
It is estimated that up to 50 schools have taken part in JobBridge since 2011.
Earlier this week, the Department of Social Protection said it had commissioned an external independent evaluation of the JobBridge scheme to provide “an overall assessment of the effects of the scheme on host organisations, including hiring practices, displacement, job creation, and any perceived differential treatment for JobBridge interns versus existing employees”.
“The results will also be considered in relation to any future changes to the scheme,” the department said. “A formal request for tender will issue shortly and it is expected preliminary results will be available to the department by the end of this year, and a final report early in 2016.”
It is expected that a decision will then be made as to whether to continue with JobBridge.