Recently ended the social consultations concerned with improving the quality of internships and vocational training, which university students and pupils pursue while still learning at an educational institution. The result of these consultations is the document presented by the European Commission, whose aim is to define the quality standards of these activities - European Quality Framework for Traineeships.
Analyses of internships in EU countries took over two years, and their results are far from expected. In Europe, we still have to do with poor quality internships and vocational trainings, emphasises Piotr Palikowski, the President of Polskie Stowarzyszenie Zarządzania Kadrami (PSZK) [Polish Association of Human Resources Management.
This state of affairs is caused, among others, by the world economic crisis. It contributed to the rise in unemployment in Europe. Employers dismissed employees from their jobs, and gave their duties to trainees and interns, in this way reducing operating costs. The European Commission wants to combat this approach, so that employers will stop replacing regular jobs with unpaid internships and trainings, which often have low educational value, says Piotr Palikowski.
In September, PSZK approved Polish Quality Framework for Traineeships. In the document, there are norms and standards which should regulate internships and trainings in companies. According to the guidelines, an internship longer than one month should be obligatorily paid. Even more, the interns should learn practical skills, which are useful on the labour market. Also, the key factor is the educational value of the internship or practice, which assumes that the young people will gain actual work experience. Soon, companies will be able to start the process of objective verification of internships and trainings offered by them, in accordance with the Quality Framework. These companies which meet the requirements will be honoured by PSZK by Quality Label, which confirms the highest standards.
The best internships and practices in Europe are in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria - in these countries, where the unemployment rate among young people is at the lowest level in Europe, up to 8 per cent, explains the President of PSZK. In these countries, university students and pupils gain both theoretical as well as practical knowledge, by numerous (and obligatory) internships and trainings. Dual education system, which is based, to put it simply, on combining theoretical and practical knowledge, works regardless of the branch, says Piotr Palikowski.
The situation of young people on the labour market in Europe does not look optimistic. In Poland, one of three graduates is unemployed, and forecasts state that this rate may rise even to 50 per cent. Even worse is the situation in Greece, Portugal and Spain, the unemployment rate in this age group now reaches 50 per cent. It is the proof that the system preparing young people to enter the labour market is simply inefficient, sums up Piotr Palikowski.