UCD is offering those who are currently receiving unemployment benefit internships in a number of administrative positions within the University under the JobBridge Scheme. The University Observer is aware of at least three placements being offered within UCD, including a position as a Publishing, Sales and Marketing Assistant at the National Folklore Collection UCD, and as an Administrator Assistant with UCD Sport.
JobBridge is the National Internship Scheme, which aims to offer internships to those who have been receiving jobseeker’s allowance or benefit for three months or more. The internships last between six and nine months in a host organisation. Anyone who is taken on under the Scheme receives their normal unemployment allowance with an additional fifty euro payment every week, paid by the Department of Social Protection.
Auditor of the UCD Socialist Workers’ Party, Karl Gill, believes the scheme serves as a means for UCD to exploit an opportunity to employ people without paying them, stating “I think it’s just UCD taking advantage of the opportunity given to them to avail of cheap labour, and I don’t think that’s acceptable for any company or State body to do. From UCD’s point of view, it’s a money-saving exercise but it’s completely unfair on the staff… [The jobs] should be available for students.”
UCD Students’ Union President Pat de Brún fully supports the scheme, “I’m in support of it because obviously there’s a recruitment embargo in the sector so it’s extremely difficult to be able to hire anyone. Obviously I would love if we were in a situation where the Employment Control Framework wasn’t in place and the University were free to hire students, but that’s not the case. We see it time and again across the University… when staff are leaving, they’re not being replaced because of the Employment Control Framework, so this is just one way of ensuring that services can remain for students.”
However, Student Centre Supervisor Charlie Solan stated that they while a “skeletal lifeguard crew … between twenty [and] thirty people” would be taken on when the new Student Centre opens, he does not foresee any of these jobs being advertised under the JobBridge Scheme. “No, what we’re looking for is primarily UCD students … Ideally, if we can get students here that are on our doorstep and are ready, willing and able to work, we’re more than happy to have them.”
Gill proposed a motion at UCDSU Council for de Brún to ask the Governing Authority to prevent UCD availing of JobBridge positions, which was defeated. However, should UCD make wider use of the scheme, Gill would consider taking the issue further, “I’ve already spoke to the Right to Work campaign because they’ve been vocal in opposing the JobBridge initiative on a national level, so I would like to see it taken further if UCD were to really start pushing ahead with it and availing of loads of jobs with it, instead of availing of reasonably paid workers rather than cheap labour.”
A spokesperson for the University was unavailable at the time of going to press.