Schools across Ireland are in trouble for firing special needs assistants and trying to replace them with unpaid “classroom assistants” from the JobBridge scheme.
The JobBridge ads specified working with children with special needs as a requirement.
Many qualified special needs workers in schools lost their jobs in the latest round of education cuts.
The Department of Social Protection was forced to step in after 51 JobBridge positions were advertised in one week.
The scandal was brought to attention by Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry who demanded the department take action.
“To me it is state-sponsored sharp practice at a minimum and at a maximum it is an attempt by the establishment of engaging in slave labour with the purpose of carrying out a very important role in the education system.”
“The people who are losing their jobs, who are highly trained and experienced in their field, are in shock at the severity of the cuts and to add to their plight, I have been informed that their SNA positions in second level schools are being eroded and replaced with a new title, ‘Classroom Assistant’.”
“Were Minister O’Sullivan and Minister Burton aware of it? If they were they have serious questions to answer. If they weren’t they have serious questions to answer.”
Joan Burton's department apologised for the “inconvenience” caused, stating:
“The recent advertisement for an internship as a Classroom Assistant cannot continue to be advertised as a JobBridge National Internship.”
“As the job/career of a classroom assistant does not exist we cannot allow in good faith internships to take place under this heading.”