Learning yes, but of quality and with fair and transparent working conditions. This is the objective of the proposed directive launched by the European Commission on March 20 and which should change the quality of work of the many young Europeans looking for a training opportunity leading to their first or next job.

But how can we ensure that joining the company is truly a benefit and no longer a missed opportunity?

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Training courses: 4 out of five workers do so

According to a Eurobarometer survey presented exactly a year ago during the European Year of Skills, four out of five young people (78%) have completed at least one internship and for one in five (19%) their first professional experience was an internship. . . Seven in ten people (68%) then found a job and more than half (39%) signed a contract with the same employer.

The internships therefore work and are numerous: the EU estimates that in 2019 there were 3.1 million trainees, half of which (1.6 million) is paid. In Italy, the 2022 report on extracurricular internships from ANPAL (Agency for Active Labor Policies) recorded 329,000 extracurricular internships activated in 2021, up (+45.5%) compared to 2020 and slightly lower than the pre-pandemic levels (around 355,000). activations).

How can we guarantee that these important figures correspond to an offer that meets expectations and is likely to turn into work?

Internships: the advantages of those who invest in the quality of the offer

Since 2014, Europe has created a “Quality Framework” for internships, the QFT, “Quality Framework for Internships” with 21 qualitative principles which guarantee high-level learning and working conditions.

However, in 2023, the Commission assessed and updated this framework based on positive results obtained from 2014, which he collected into seven case studies. It thus appears that in countries which did not have rules on internships, such as Bulgaria, the QFT guided legislative changes in this area, in Ireland it led to a modification of existing legislation, while 'in Spain the EU indications have improved the reality. protection of trainees. In Greece, this has even led to the creation of a register of internship providers, a register of companies and a code of ethics for internships.

The Commission also considered the advantages of applying QTM not only in terms of an increase in the number of internships but also a reduction in cases of exploitation in almost all countries, noting for example that in Malta and Luxembourg the obligation to stipulate such contracts/agreements with companies has promoted the understanding of their rights, in Croatia, the application of EU rules has placed trainees at the same qualitative and remunerative level as employees.

Can we do more? Yes of course.

How to improve the quality of internships and promote employment?

According to the EU, the implementation of the EU principles on internships has also brought better results for the “post-internship” and therefore employment: in Cyprus for example, 77% of trainees in personal services found employment immediately afterwards, but measures must be taken in all states.

On the one hand, set specific learning objectives, carefully write a written internship agreement and providing a mentor for the intern. The EU believes that where the written agreement is clear (e.g. in Ireland and Spain), understanding the expected training objectives and standards actually increases the chances of obtaining employment after the internship.

In addition, the proposed European directive must guarantee adequate levels of remuneration and put an end to illegal internships. In its practical application, the future directive will be applied in accordance with diversity that represents the labor market of each State, without diminishing the already high quality of the existing rules on traineeships and also allowing Member States to develop even more favorable contractual conditions for trainees on the basis of their own internal market rules.

Also essential internship supervision: in Belgium and Italy, the identification of national supervisory authorities must be improved, the responsible guardian must be carefully identified and thus internships which are not truly formative or effective in terms of subsequent employment must be identified.

Directions to follow for a quality internship

Certainly, concludes the EU, there are essentially two important actions to undertake to improve the internship situation: on the one hand help employers by accessing financial support to carry out internships that respect European principles, and on the other hand by raising awareness among young people to understand their rights and also by choosing cross-border internships.

Because skills growth can only be considered as such if it continues different educational experiences provided that it is part of a uniform framework of rights and guarantees for young workers shared throughout the EU and that it heralds opportunities which result in stable work and not just an opportunity to training as an end in itself.

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