The Department of Social Protection has said it is to commission an external review of the JobBridge scheme and will soon issue a formal request for tenders to carry out an "independent external evaluation”.

It expects the preliminary results will be available to the department by the end of this year, while a final report is expected early in 2016.

In a statement, the department said the evaluation will include "an overall assessment of the effects of the scheme on host organisations, including hiring practices, displacement, job creation and any perceived differential treatment for JobBridge interns versus existing employees.

"The review will also include a counterfactual impact evaluation and an assessment of the monitoring regime," it added.

The JobBridge scheme was originally introduced on a pilot basis for two years, but according to the department, it has been extended year-on-year "due to its success".

The department said it is eager to review and revise the scheme to take account of "the changed economic circumstances and operational experience".