During a recent college visit, it was brought to my attention that there is a sense of discontent among the students of surveying towards the Government’s JobBridge Scheme.
The recently published “Employment Opportunities and Skills Requirements for Construction and Property Surveying 2014-2018” has signalled good news for student and graduate surveyors in terms of future employment. However, its findings bring the JobBridge Scheme into further contention, as demand for skilled workers rises.
Mention of the scheme in any conversation can bring forth strong opinions, both positive and negative. While the initiative is seen in some circumstances as an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a designated field, many believe that employers use it as a way of taking advantage of cheap labour.
In order to get a clearer viewpoint from student surveyors, the Society contacted the recently-formed DIT Student Surveying Society and asked them for their opinions on the scheme. Some of their comments are outlined below. While they are representative of the comments generally, these are the views of the students themselves and their publication in the Journal does not mean they are the views of the Society. However, it is worthwhile hearing their voices as they seek to enter the profession.
“What I would like to see, and I’m sure a lot of people will agree, is that the work experience is relevant. When we’re finished the internship, it should count for something, perhaps be part of our APC [Assessment of Professional Competence] with a realistic chance of a job opportunity.”
“I think that the reasoning behind the scheme is legitimate; experience is essential. However, the length of the scheme can lead to exploitation. I think the €50 supplement undermines a person’s education and the value of education. While I do think graduates overestimate their worth, I think the compensation for the scheme should be higher.”
“What is supposed to be a head start into re-employment is nothing more than a method of denying proper, full-time employment for an individual. A lot more clarity needs to be enforced into the details and the definition of who can apply for a JobBridge program, the company offering them, and the permanency of the position. This needs strict monitoring, guidelines, and results, with a reward of either certified learning and/or permanent placement within a defined period of time. JobBridge can be rewarding for both employer and employee, however this needs control, regulation and, most importantly, accountability. Clarity between a student, graduate and a job seeker is the key to this.”
“The scheme is deeply flawed. No research is put into the individual training period aims and objectives, therefore there can be no review to see if the internship has achieved those aims. There are no agents making unannounced visits to see how the scheme is managed on the ground.”
“I think it is a disgrace considering both the minimum wage in Ireland and the amount of time and hard work students put in to achieve their degrees. It allows companies to hire people at a fraction of their worth and subsequently inhibit someone else from gaining full-time employment.”
While it is clear that the student surveying population share a feeling of disgruntlement about JobBridge, many of the comments could be construed as constructive for potential employers. With some changes to the programme’s set-up – such as more clearly-defined objectives for the intern, and a greater possibility of the internship leading to a full-time role with the firm – it is likely that the scheme would be better received by students and graduates.