Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has announced the closure of JobBridge to new applications as he published an authoritative review by consultants Indecon into the programme.
The report by Indecon International Research Economists in association with London Economics finds that JobBridge was very successful in helping unemployed people from all age groups to return to the jobs market, and 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.
Minister Varadkar said: “The Indecon report shows that JobBridge has helped around two thirds of participants, some 38,000 unemployed people from all age groups, to re-enter the jobs market. Although it was far from perfect, looked at in the round, it was a real success.
“JobBridge was launched in 2011 at the height of the economic crash, when youth unemployment and emigration were soaring. Unemployed people could not get work experience without losing their benefits and employers could not afford to take on new staff. The economy and labour markets have changed dramatically for the better since then. Employers are hiring again, there are lots of jobs available, unemployment is down from over 15% to under 8%, and the Live Register is under 300,000 for the first time since 2008.
“So JobBridge served its purpose. The programme will close to new applications from this Friday and will be wound down. Those currently on the programme will be able to complete their internship. Our focus is now on providing appropriate work experience to people on welfare who need it to re-enter the labour market. The Department is therefore launching a consultation process with unions, employers and other stakeholders to design a new, more targeted work experience programme. In line with the recommendations from Indecon and the LMC, it will focus on the medium to long-term unemployed, have a stronger focus on skills and training, and should provide at least the minimum wage. I encourage all stakeholders to engage in this consultation.”