Of all the con-jobs the government has pulled in recent years, I’d have expected JobBridge to be the most blatant and despised. Sadly, this isn’t the case. A lot of reactionary individuals praise the scheme, enthusiastically stating that all the ‘wasters’ should work for their money. It is of course easy to say this when you’re in the privileged position of having a job and do not have to resort to what is essentially unpaid labor for a private company in order to gain some extra money. However, all too many sensible people who should certainly know better, continue to praise the scheme based on faulty arguments. Here are a few of them which I’ve heard on numerous occasions-
‘They’re paying back some of what they’re taking out of taxpayers money’
This argument doesn’t really hold up as, according to the official JobBridge website, 67% percent of JobBridge internships are with private companies. The scheme provides free labour for these companies and actually costs the state fifty euro exta per week for every person who takes part in an internship. You could of course argue that they are paying back ‘society’ as a whole but that’s not really true either as we shall soon see.
‘Internships will help the unemployed gain experience’
This argument may be true for a limited number of internships. Some individuals seeking specialized careers in careers such as law or journalism may indeed benefit from taking part in an internship which will allow them to further their prospects. But many of the companies taking advantage of the JobBridge scheme are large multinationals engaged in blatant exploitation of workers by offering internships which promise little gaining of actual relevant experience. The most notorious example is Tesco who sought to take on two hundred interns for manual labour positions (Irish Times,September 20th, 2011). Such companies are gaining free labour at taxpayer expense.
‘They will probably be taken on full-time when the internship is over’
Fewer than four hundred people out of seven thousand had been kept on by their employers following a JobBridge, as Joan Burton admitted earlier this year. (Irish Times, May 10th, 2012).
There is one enormous problem with the JobBridge scheme, far more destructive than any I have already mentioned, and one which the schemes supporters seem perfectly happy to ignore entirely. When it is brought up in debate it is almost as if they stick their fingers in their ears until I have finished speaking. This problem is the plain fact that JobBridge does not in any way promote job creation. When companies are being offered free labour, subsidized by the Irish state, why should they seek to create actual paid jobs? I am not merely speaking about such companies as Tesco. Despite my earlier comments about the potential benefits of an internship with a legal practice or newspaper, I still harbour suspicions about their use of the programme. In particular, I have never kept secret my absolute hatred of the legal profession, a group I believe to be a blight on modern society. When one considers the fact that unpaid internships (‘devilling’) are considered an integral part of becoming a qualified barrister it would come as little surprise that they too are abusing the system.Incidentally, I have always thought that ‘devilling’ was a fine method for the upper classes to retain control of the legal profession by ensuring only those who could support themselves through a year of unpaid work would be able to qualify as a barrister. it would come as little surprise that they too are abusing the system. But I’m digressing on a rant, perhaps one I’ll continue another day.
In conclusion, I don’t feel that JobBridge can be justified by any sensible person. The only possible honest justification can come from the businessmen who are lining their pockets as we speak. Any other defenses of this exploitative scheme are hollow excuses for such profiteering.