The Jobbridge scheme which was introduced by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton last year seems to be getting a lot of criticism in the media these days; this is either down to people’s natural tendency to find faults or the fact that the scheme has its flaws. Personally I think both are true but I also believe the former to be a bigger issue.

As the JobBridge Internship Scheme is relatively new, brought into effect last year, of course it is going to experience problems in its initial phase but hopefully with time these issues can and will be remedied. The aim of this scheme as per their website, www.jobbridge.ie is “to assist in breaking the cycle where jobseekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills”.

Coming from an accountancy background personally I found the JobBridge Scheme very useful, I was stuck in exactly the situation described above of preferably needing experience to get experience. While there were accountancy graduate jobs to be got, the demand and competition for these roles greatly outnumbered the actual positions available.

The description of the scheme goes onto say “the scheme will also give people a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives”; this seems to be where the root of the majority of the criticism lies. JobBridge unfortunately has left itself open for manipulation in that some employers see it as an opportunity for free labour. There has been internships advertised which you could question just how “valuable” the experience might be, such as waitressing internships, cleaning internships, cafe supervisor internships, the list goes on. The internships on this scheme should be solely to provide, as stated, valuable experience to help people go on to secure a full time paid position in roles that they would not have got without that experience.

So from this point of view I completely understand why some people see the scheme as unsuccessful but what they need to remember is that participation in this scheme is voluntary and nobody is forcing people to actually apply for these internships that are deemed to be mistreatment of the scheme. If an internship is considered to be an abuse of the system it can be reported and will be removed from the website and the employer will no longer be able to advertise this internship. A more relevant and obvious criticism and probably the only one I have from my experience of being on the scheme is that currently there are over four hundred thousand people unemployed in Ireland and this scheme currently only offers about 6,000 positions, clearly this is a problem and there is potential to greatly extend the scheme but before this can be done the issues of mistreatment of the system need to be rectified.

After spending months receiving “thanks but no thanks” emails or in most situations no response at all from perspective employers, it’s easy to become disheartened so when I became aware of this scheme I immediately began seeking a suitable placement. The response rate I got not surprisingly increased as I wouldn’t need to be paid. However these internships are far from a one sided arrangement, yes while the employer is receiving “free labour”, the intern is receiving the time of that employer while at the same time gaining experience they would not have got sitting at home waiting for their dream job to land in front of them.

Some people may not be keen on the idea of working for nothing; I personally had no problem with it as I felt the experience would be worth more to me in the long term than a few extra euros in my pocket. The job market in Ireland today has greatly changed from what it was a few years ago and people need to begin to understand that there are jobs out there if they are willing to comprise a little, if not, they will have to sit at home and wait for that dream job.

I have now completed my nine months internship, gaining priceless experience along the way from day one and have been offered a full time paid position. I hope this demonstrates that this scheme, when applied in the manner it is aimed too, can prove to be a success.