Regulations on traineeships outside formal education (September 2020)
Traineeships are short-time work experiences that provide young people with professional skills and competences. The on-the-job practice boosts their personal capacities (like planning, problem-solving, interpersonal skills…) and reinforces their employability. Traineeships have become a frequent way to fill in long bouts of unemployment, especially during economic downturns.
Several European initiatives support quality traineeships, first and foremost through the EU Youth Guarantee. The scheme stipulates that young people receive a quality offer for an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. To uphold the quality of traineeships, several requirements have been identified in the Quality Framework for Traineeships (QFT). Among these requirements are clear working hours and length of the traineeship, provision of social security contributions and insurance against occupational accidents, and well-defined training goals.
Traineeships generally fall in one of three groups. They can be organised in the framework of formal education, as compulsory or optional part of study curricula. They can be offered by active labour market programmes (ALMP), delivered by employment services and targeting young job seekers. Alternatively, they can be agreed directly between a young person and a profit or no-profit organization (“open market traineeships”). In this case, the conditions are negotiated between the trainee and the trainer.
While traineeships in formal education are always regulated, this is not always the case for those taking place under ALMP and, even less so, open market ones. The absence of a regulatory framework exposes trainees to risks like long working hours, tasks not related to their learning objectives and lack of health and accidents insurance.
The map indicates that regulations for traineeships outside of formal education exist in the majority of European countries. In half of these countries, all traineeships are regulated, irrespective of their type. For example, the French Community of Belgium has established the “professional immersion convention”, which offers a regulatory framework to young people who want to gain professional experience. The convention can be signed in the framework of any type of traineeship and entitles the trainee to a compensation for his or her work.
In the other half, regulations apply only to traineeships organised under ALMP. This is the case of Croatia, where the Employment Service co-funds traineeships targeting young people who undergo a re-qualification programme.
A few countries have established regulations limited to traineeships open to specific groups of young people. For example, in Bulgaria, regulations apply to young people participating in summer internships in state administrations.