Padraig McCarrick gives us the lowdown on the new depths to which JobBridge is plummeting to…

Last week we saw the JobBridge National Internship Scheme post an ad for a 9 month ‘internship’ for a primary school teacher. The advertisement goes to say that ‘interns’ (read as exploited teacher) will “receive formal/informal training in the following classroom management, self evaluation and classroom evaluation, Interactive white board skills, I.T. skills to enhance classroom teaching, acquire knowledge of suitable I.T. resources. Whole school development training in Literacy and Numeracy. On completion the intern will have attained skills in I.T. use of interactive white board in classroom, be able to access relevant, suitable resources.”  For this, an unemployed teacher will receive €50 extra on top of their weekly social welfare payment for doing the exact same job as fully employed teachers with the exact same qualification.

The ad has already gained much criticism with the INTO telling the that they see the internship as exploitation as well as having “a directive directing members not to take part. Any teacher doing this will not get anything out of it”.

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy in his criticism of the scheme has called on the INTO to “now act to put a stop to the use of JobBridge in this school, and also widen the campaign across the education sector with the other teachers’ unions”. Although the INTO has spoken out against the scheme, as of the time of writing this article, the Union of Students of  Ireland (USI) have failed to have publicly commented on the issue, even though it is likely that young, newly qualified teachers would be the ones most likely to avail of this so called internship.

While incidents like this effect the conditions of existing teachers with many years of experience, it is newly qualified teachers that are most exploited by this scheme. Instead of being given the chance to put their skills that they have accumulated over the past number of years of study, which includes classroom teaching experience,  their time and value as educators is being seriously undermined by the austerity drive undertaken. This has been seen in other public sector areas where the government has tried to introduce a graduate nurses scheme, which would see a grave reduction in young nurse and midwives pay conditions.

While it’s easy to dismiss these criticisms, nurses and teachers are often soft targets for complaints by those who either engage in union bashing on a regular basis, or are supporters of the current path of austerity. What these cases do highlight however is the concentrated effort to undermine working conditions, not only in the public sector, but in the private as well, by using the term ‘internship’ to replace existing jobs instead of using an internships proper function of training someone in skills which allow workers to contribute in the conditions that they deserve.

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