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Written Answers - Employment Support Services

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 296.  Deputy Kieran O’Donnell Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the arrangements in place to ensure the prompt processing of individuals in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment who have the opportunity of undertaking casual employment; the length of time it takes to administer a person’s case where that person has to sign off temporarily to undertake work, and then sign back on again once the work has ended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16170/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Where a jobseeker client states that they have found work, it is normal practice for their jobseeker claim to be closed. However, in cases where the client is taking up a short period of temporary work (up to 4 weeks) or training (up to 8 weeks), arrangements are now in place to simplify the process of signing off and back on at the end of this period.

In these cases, instead of closing the claim, the local office temporarily suspends payment for the duration of the work or training. When the person signs on again after the period of work or training, the claim can be reactivated very quickly and payment restored within a few days.

It is important for the client to make clear to the local office in advance that the work is expected to last for up to 4 weeks only or 8 weeks in the case of training.

 297.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the number of persons that have secured paid employment following the completion of an internship on the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16172/12]

 301.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  when she expects the evaluation of the JobBridge programme to be completed; if this evaluation will cover the types of jobs taken up and the numbers that were offered paid employment at the end of the internship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16176/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 and 301 together.

JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, came into operation on the 1st July 2011. The Scheme has made significant progress to-date. Currently over 5,600 internships have commenced to date with 4,170 internships currently in place and over 2,100 opportunities are cur[823]rently advertised on www.jobbridge.ie. Our records indicate that a significant proportion of individuals have progressed into employment on completion of their internship placements. As the first internships did not commence until mid July it is too early to report on the number of interns who have completed their internship due to the inherent six or nine months duration of a JobBridge Internship. However, initial data (5th March 2012) provided by Host Organisations in relation to interns who have finished their internship indicates that 33% of finishers secured employment immediately on the conclusion of their internship. This data does not reflect those who subsequently secured employment and is based solely on the feedback from the Host Organisations. Further information on outcomes will be ascertained as a result of the forthcoming evaluation of JobBridge.

The Department of Social Protection has recently conducted a tendering process for a company to conduct and evaluate JobBridge. This Project will assess the design, delivery and impact of the JobBridge Scheme on the unemployed. It should also assist the Department in making further policy decisions on the benefit of work placement programmes in the overall context of the Government’s activation policy, which is to engage with every unemployed individual to provide them with a pathway to employment and to prevent and reduce long term unemployment.

The evaluation should include the following key outcomes:

Socio economic profile of the participants on the Scheme;

Information on the host organisations that have used the Scheme including, size, sector, and reason for participating;

Details of the progression of those on the Scheme into education, training or job placement. In the case of job placement this should detail if the placement is with the same company, in the same sector and the sustainability of that placement;

Details of the nature of the work experience of the participants and a measurement of the relevance of that experience to the labour market and to progression into employment;

An assessment of the displacement effect of the Scheme;

An assessment of the level of deadweight in the Scheme;

Information on the satisfaction of participants with their experience of the Scheme;

Information on the satisfaction of host organisations with their experience of the Scheme;

An assessment of the process and procedures used by the Department in running the Scheme;

Recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved.

The selection process for the engagement of the successful vendor is currently being finalised. It is anticipated that the evaluation review will be completed by the first quarter 2013

 298.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  if she is satisfied that all employers taking part in the JobBridge programme are completing their monthly compliance reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16173/12]

[824]

 299.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the number of unannounced inspections that have taken place in relation to employers taking part in the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16174/12]

 300.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the number of persons that have availed of the whistle blowing function set up as part of the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16175/12]

 302.  Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the measures that are in place to ensure no jobs are displaced as a result of the JobBridge programme; her views that there should be stronger penalties for employers who are found to have displaced jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16177/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 298 to 300, inclusive, and 302 together.

JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme came into operation on the 1st July 2011. Currently over 5,600 internships have commenced to date with 4,170 internships currently in place and over 2,100 opportunities are currently advertised on www.jobbridge.ie. This represents very significant progress in a short period of time.

All organisations who are participating in JobBridge are required to abide by the criteria of the Scheme including the specific measures which have been designed to prevent the abuse of the Scheme; protect the intern from exploitation; and to ensure the integrity of the JobBridge.

As such JobBridge internships are monitored in accordance with the criteria governing the Scheme to ensure compliance. My Department conduct this monitoring to ensure that they are of sufficient quality and that both host organisations and interns are abiding by the spirit and the rules of the Scheme.

As part of this process Host Organisations must complete a monthly online compliance return for each Intern. The obligation to complete these returns is clearly stated in the Standard Agreement with is signed by both parties to the internship. A guide to completing Compliance Returns is available on www.jobbridge.ie and the JobBridge Team are available to provide support in relation to any queries which may arise.

Of the current active internships, 99% of Host Organisations are within compliance regulations. Of the remaining 1% who has not completed compliance the Job Bridge team investigate the matter fully.

Monitoring visits are another integral part of our continuous efforts to improve the JobBridge scheme. The aim is to facilitate individual discussions with both the Intern and the Host Organisation to ensure compliance with the terms outlined in the JobBridge Standard Agreement. Unannounced visits would be incongruous with this approach. A monitoring pilot has been conducted in relation to active internships. This pilot is under review in order to enhance the monitoring process. It is intended to conduct monitoring of 5% of active internships on a monthly basis.

It is worth noting that an intern may contact the JobBridge Team at any stage of their internship whether for advice or as part of the “whistle blowing” feature. Consequently any individual who suspects that an internship may be in breach of the scheme’s criteria, including cases of suspected displacement or poor quality, may contact the JobBridge Team. All such claims are fully investigated.

To-date over 7,800 emails have been received and responded to accordingly by the JobBridge Team and our Regional Support network. Of the current matters under review, in the region [825]of 89 queries relate to matters associated with whistleblowing. This may include reports of potential displacements, possible issues arising with the conducting of the internship or quality matters relating to current advertisements. These queries are currently active undergoing investigation and are consequently subject to change pending outcomes.

My Department continues to monitor and review the operation of the JobBridge Scheme including its control mechanisms and conditions on an on-going basis. Failure to comply with the terms of the JobBridge Scheme will result in a Host Organisation not being entitled to offer further placements under the Scheme

Question No. 301 answered with Question No. 297.

Question No. 302 answered with Question No. 298.


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