Reaction to Job Bridge - the National Internship Scheme

 29th June 2011


We welcome the launch of the National Internship Scheme by the Government and believe it will provide practical work experience for a number of job seekers, which will certainly help their job prospects beyond the internship. We are particularly encouraged by the fact that Martin Murphy, MD of HP is chairing a steering group of private sector participants, who will support the activation of the scheme.


The National Internship Scheme was announced as a key element of the Government’s Jobs Initiative . Detail of the 5000 internships is to be announced today. Under this scheme, companies will be encouraged to take an internship on for a period of up to 9 months. The employer can’t have made anyone redundant in the previous 3 months and the job seeker must have been on the live register for 3 months or more, to discourage displacement. The Job seeker will receive an additional €50 per week on top of their job seeker benefits. The scheme is to last for 2 years.


This Internship Scheme is the revised version of the Skills Development Internship Programme announced in November's Budget by the last Government.


There are however 3 Significant challenges facing the National Internship Scheme, as it stands:



1. Training & Internship Streams

This scheme has no pre-training element linked to it. Although job seekers will acquire valuable and meaningful work experience, they won’t necessarily re-skill in any way.

The duties carried out by the Intern depend on the requirements of the employer. Many internships may end up in support roles with no real potential to be made permanent.



To stream the internships across a number of defined categories. (e.g. support, sales, procurement, digital marketing). Develop a 3 month training (6 weeks full time and 6 weeks through blended learning) programme to support re-skilling of the interns and in turn increasing their impact and value to the employer upon placement.

Three of the above categories have specific commercial outputs and will directly affect bottom line, therefore adding real commercial value to the employer, creating an opportunity for the individual once the placement comes to an end.

E.G. Digital Marketing - supporting indigenous Exporting: Diploma course can be completed within 8 weeks, combined this with sales and job readiness training. Most Irish businesses will consider taking a Digital Marketing intern on, allowing them to Market and sell the company's products and services in new markets, over sees through: Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media Marketing and On Line Selling. This will open virtual shop windows for companies who don’t operate in these markets.

Outcome: companies generate more revenue through selling in new markets, creating demand for the intern to be kept on and in turn may create addition jobs in the business.




2. Sourcing Interns from the Live Register, by skills

Job Seekers need to be 3 months on the live Register to qualify for the Internship Scheme. There is a considerable cost to sourcing and screening candidates and this will become a barrier for many employers.



Job Seeker Database

To set up a central database, allowing job seekers on the live register elect themselves available for work/ internship, categorised by skills. Give free access to employers allowing them to actively target candidates from the live register (will also allow employers avail of the PRSI exemption/ reduction for general appointments). As it stands, employers have to advertise internships through regular channels (press , jobs boards etc) and can’t pre-select job seekers who qualify (i.e. on the live register for over 3 months).  The Job Seeker Database could be supported by a specific internship jobs board (National Internship Jobs), allowing job seekers target internship opportunities. The simpler the initiative, the more likely all stakeholders will engage with it.



3. Employee - Employer relationship

Under the scheme the Government will pay an extra €50 per week to the intern to incentivize the placement.

This incentive distinguishes the National Internship Scheme form the Work Placement Programme (FÁS - IBEC initiative) which doesn’t compensate per placement. The challenge here is that the employer- employee dynamic is shifted due to the lack of contribution from the employer.



Implement a shared cost model between the Government and employer. Allow the employer to contribute up to €100 per week (on top of legitimate expenses) to correct this dynamic and therefore give a clear mandate to the employer. This will also help attract higher level of professional job seeker and therefore the overall improve the impact of the team.

All in all, 5000 placements are more realistic than 15,000 internships announced in the Skills Development Internship Programme, although it will be challenge to fill these within 2 years.

It is now up to employers and job seekers to play their part in supporting and engaging with this initiative to get this scheme to work.


- Julia Purcell, Sigmar Recruitment 

Back to Blog