Traineeships are becoming increasingly common for young people during or after their studies, as they can help them to gain relevant experience and find a foothold in the labour market. A Eurobarometer survey on traineeships in 2013 showed that almost every second young person in the age group 18-35 had at least one traineeship experience. 7 out of 10 ex-trainees stated that their traineeship experience was useful in finding a regular job.
Increasingly, however, a range of stakeholders have voiced concerns about the quality of traineeships. In particular, some traineeships tend to misuse young people as a cheap or free labour force, without helping the trainee to get a foothold on the labour market. Various studies and surveys including the above mentioned Eurobarometer on traineeships confirmed these concerns, particularly with regard to insufficient learning content and substandard working conditions.
As a European response to these concerns, the Commission proposed a Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships (QFT) in December 2013, after a two-stage social partner consultation that did not result in a social partner agreement. The Council adopted in March 2014 its final Recommendation, based on the Commission's proposal.
The QFT proposes guidelines for traineeships outside formal education to provide a high quality learning content and fair working conditions so that traineeships support education-to-work transitions and increase the employability of trainees.
The QFT also contains guidelines on transparency regarding compensation and social security coverage, as well as hiring chances. These aspects should be clear to applicants already at the stage of the application for a traineeship position.
The 22 quality elements that are part of the QFT are directly transposable into national legislation or social partner agreements. The QFT is particularly relevant as a reference for quality offers of traineeships under the Youth Guarantee, since many national Youth Guarantee schemes foresee traineeships as one of the four types of offers for young people.
Two and a half years after the adoption of the QFT, as part of the communication on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative, the Commission also examined how Member States’ existing and new legislation and social partner agreements comply with the requirements of the QFT. The Staff Working Document on Applying the Quality Framework for Traineeships found that half of the EU Member States have undertaken — or plan to undertake — legal changes to align their national framework with the QFT (see flags below at the bottom of the page).
In case you are interested in becoming a trainee in the European Commission, visit the dedicated webpage on Traineeships in the European Commission for more details.