All this week, Debating Europe will be publishing a themed series of posts looking at the issue of youth unemployment in Europe. With young people the first to be fired and the last to be hired in a crisis, this is an issue that should be high up the political agenda. On 15 May, Debating Europe will be holding an event in partnership with Friends of Europe, bringing together high-ranking policy-makers in Brussels to ask how the EU can avoid a ‘Lost Generation‘. We’ll be bringing your thoughts and comments to this event to get some reactions, and we’re starting our series today by looking at internships in Europe.
Last year, we asked you how you thought youth unemployment could be lowered in Europe, and we took some of your comments to Italy’s then-Minister of Labour, Elsa Fornero. One of the comments we received came from Jack, who was very critical of what he sees as the ‘exploitative’ treatment of interns in crisis-struck Europe:
Many of the so-called ‘employment opportunities’ for internships or apprenticeships in the UK are little more than exploitative revolving door schemes without a job offer at the end.
In terms of the figures, more than 1 in 4 young people have done at least 2 internships. Shockingly, almost 10% of young people have done 5 or more!
Yesterday, László Andor, the European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, gave a speech to the Spanish Youth Council declaring that he wanted to tighten the rules around internships:
By the end of 2013 we will put forward a proposal related to a Quality Framework for Traineeships. This should ensure that traineeships do not simply replace jobs but provide young people with high quality work experience under good conditions.
We wanted to get a variety of political views on this issue, so it would be easier for people (including interns!) to choose who to vote for in Debating Europe Vote 2014. So we spoke to members of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (the committee in the European Parliament that will be responsible for reviewing the proposed ‘Quality Framework for Traineeships’).
First, we approached German MEP Jutta Steinruck, a member of the Social Democrats in the Parliament. How would she react to Jack’s comment that too many internships in Europe are exploitative?
All over Europe, there are highly-qualifed young people entering internships for one year or more, and at the end they don’t find a good, well-paid job. We have to stop this.
There should be minimum standards for internships, so that enterprises don’t abuse young people entering the labour market… There are a lot of employers who treat their interns really well, but also a lot who don’t. So, we have to force them, because if it is voluntary they will do what is best for them financially.
Do you agree with Steinruck? Then vote for the S&D group in Debating Europe Vote 2014! We’ll be taking the results to MEPs for them to react, so show your support for the group you want to see win in the European Parliament elections in 2014.
Next, we also took Jack’s comment to Marije Cornelissen, a Dutch MEP with Greens group in the European Parliament. We’ve heard from a Socialist MEP, but how would a Green MEP react to Jack’s comment?
Of course, if there is so much support for tougher rules around internships, the question is why hasn’t anything been done? Well, Heinz K. Becker, an Austrian MEP who belongs to the centre-right Centre-Right group in the European Parliament, argues that there is actually a split in attitudes, including in the European Parliament:
Do you agree with Becker? Then vote for his group (the EPP group) to show your support!
What do YOU think? Are interns being exploited in ‘revolving door’ schemes? Should there be European minimum standards for internships? Or would greater EU-wide protection for interns just strangle Europe in red tape? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.