JobBridge scheme to be wound down from this Friday

A new programme will see participants paid at least the minimum wage

JobBridge scheme to be wound down from this Friday

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The national internship scheme JobBridge is to end to new applications on Friday, and be wound down.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar says while the scheme was far from perfect, it was a real success.

JobBridge was launched in 2011 at the height of the economic crash.

A review of the internship programme by Indecon International Research Economists, in association with London Economics, was published today.

The report found that JobBridge was very successful in "helping unemployed people from all age groups to return to the jobs market".

It also says it was viewed positively by most of those taking part.

However, it also confirms that JobBridge has served its purpose and should be replaced with a new programme with a stronger focus on skills, paying at least the minimum wage, and focusing on those unemployed for at least six months.

The Indecon report shows JobBridge helped around two-thirds of participants - some 38,000 unemployed people - to re-enter the jobs market.

Mr Varadkar says JobBridge has "done its job" and it is time to move on.

He told Newstalk Drive the new programme will reduce risks of workers being abused.

Business group IBEC has welcomed the move, but warned against any delay in setting up a new scheme.

Head of social and education policy with IBEC, Tony Donohoe, said: "A robust independent evaluation has shown that JobBridge improved a jobseekers chance of getting a job by over 30%, and almost 65% of participants are still in employment.

"By any measure, this makes JobBridge the  most successful labour market activation programme of recent times.

"However, the significant decline in unemployment makes this an opportune time to consider a new programme, which retains the best features of JobBridge but is also appropriate for an economy in recovery."