Dec 04 2013
Apprentices in the European Union (EU) are not happy with their lot. According to a Eurobarometer, published on 26 November, almost six out of ten trainees (59%) did not receive any payment during their last traineeship. Among those who were paid, less than half felt that it was enough to cover basic living cots. Four out of ten trainees did not have a traineeship agreement or written contract with the organisation or company. Close to 25% reported that their working conditions were different to those of regular employees and 20% considered that they did not learn anything useful on a professional level during the course of their traineeship.
To combat this failure the European Commission has recommended that Member States increase the transparency of conditions – such as payment – for traineeships across the EU. After demonstrations of the poor quality of traineeships in the EU, the Commission will submit a proposal for a Council recommendation on a quality framework for traineeships that are not university-related on 4 December.
The proposal calls for the implementation of a written convention stating the learning objectives, working conditions, rights and obligations of each party and duration of the traineeship that should not exceed six months.
According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, published on 26 November, almost a third of traineeships were considered to be poor quality in terms of the training content and working conditions. ‘Traineeships have become an important entry point into the labour market for young people [...] they must offer quality learning content and adequate working conditions, and should not be a cheap substitute for regular job’.
The proposal for a Council recommendation for apprenticeships aims to provide, by 2014, a framework for apprenticeships where the trainee and traineeship provider decide on a set working week without intervention from a third party, and which includes a learning aspect in order to acquire practical experience before holding down a regular job.
The non-binding text establishes guidelines to allow trainees to benefit from a high-quality work experience under safe conditions. These common quality standards cover the traineeship agreement, the recognition of a traineeship, the demands for transparency and the participation of social partners.
The Commission proposes that from now on, all apprenticeships should be based on a written agreement signed beforehand by the trainee and the traineeship provider. This document should state the rights and obligations of each party, including the applicable criteria for working hours, social security (accident, illness).