by Jana Allenberg
On the 6th of July 2010, the European Parliament (EP) published a resolution “promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status” (2009/2221 (INI)). The resolution was triggered by the economic crisis and its negative effects on youth unemployment in the EU Member States.
According to the resolution young people have been disproportionately affected by a massive rise in unemployment rates across the EU. They often have to face insecure and precarious forms of employment like marginal part-time, temporary or fixed term employment and have difficulties in finding permanent employment. At the same time employers seem to be replacing regular employees with trainees or interns more frequently to save money; by exploiting young people they make it even harder for them to enter the labour market.
In the resolution the EP calls for more and better apprenticeships and refers to the dual system within Vocational Educational and Training (VET) in countries such as Austria, Germany and Denmark. This system seeks to promote young people’s transition from education to employment by making practical working experiences an integral part of their education. The EP calls on EU Member States to support apprenticeship schemes, to encourage companies to offer young people training opportunities even in hard times and stresses that apprenticeships must not replace regular jobs.
The regulation also calls for better and secured internships and asks the EU executive to follow the proposal for a European quality charter on internships . The Charter sets out minimum standards to ensure that internships have an educational value and do not replace regular jobs. The minimum standards of the Charter include an outline of the job description or qualifications to be acquired, a time limit on internships, a minimum allowance based on local standard living expenses, insurance in the area of work, social security benefits that comply with local standards and a clear connection to the educational programme in question.
The EP calls the Commission to provide statistics on internships in each EU Member State, including the number and length of internships, social benefits and allowances paid to interns and age groups of interns to produce a comparative study on the different existing internship schemes in the EU Member States.