There is a Quality Framework on Traineeships in place across Europe, which recommends that trainees should be able to acquire high-quality work experience under safe and fair conditions. However, the issue of unpaid internships still appears to affect young people across Europe, with some people calling for them to be made illegal. Considering the economic crisis, what are the alternatives for young people who need work experience? Can employers be persuaded to pay their interns a living wage?

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There's a Chinese proverb and I quote: "Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I'll understand." The significance, therefore, of any internship is to put the intern or the trainee to matters of extreme urgency. It is not about the allowance or the salary. The idea is harness the expertise properly. To do this is not free. Prudent budget management is the key while trimming the bureaucracy. "Old guards" should leave or force to leave. A regular assessment of "old guard's" performance vis-a-vis their assigned task should be done religiously, filtering the smart ones from the useless.
You cannot treat young people as cheap labour. This is not ethical and It is not good for our Economics neither. If young people have not got responsibilities, the cannot become mature. Moreover, the law contributes for rich people to take advantage of intership.
From my point of view, it makes no sense that European Union tries to improve internship's quality and at the same time offers unpaid or really low-paid internships. As an example, I don't see affordable an internship in Luxembourg for 307€. Also international bodies as UN offer just unpaid internship in places like New York or Geneva. Under that perspective, I consider normal that private companies use the same policy as international human rights bodies which are supposed to protect people's rights. You have to be the model to follow before demanding others to change internship's policy.
Today, employers don't want to invest in training and formation because it's become socially acceptable and too easy for the employee to leave shortly after. This has caused a giant hole in the system, and the public sector hasn't managed to fix it, not even remotely. The problem I've seen everywhere is that the public sector funded training is not hands-on oriented. An employer doesn't care about you having read some books and followed some seminars with some expert talking, he or she wants to see two things: 1. how many months you've spent applying a specific set of skills on actual projects, because you learn a skillset only by applying it for a long enough period of time 2. a portfolio, to see some proofs and examples of the previous point and better evaluate your level of competence.
The answer is simple: unpaid internship must be considered illegal. Un unpaid worker is only a slave and internships o traineeships are are axactly a type of work. During every internship (although some employers keep stating the opposite), people have exactly the same tasks of other employees. So it's not possible to consider internships as something different from a job. Internship is a job, and it requires a salary, a honest salary, not any other ridiculous remuneration. In addition, the enterprises should be obliged to hire the stageurs after the internship period. Actually nowadays everybody knows that the enterprises use traineeships in order to have always young unpaid workers and after the end of this period, they say "goodbye" to all these people. This is also because treineeships are not considered effectively as a job, and in fact on a cv a traineeship cannot be considered by recruiters as strong and relevant as a job experience. In my opinion, internships should not exist. Young people must be emplyed as first-experienced workers and if they don't work, the enterprise can find someone else
I agree on the fact that trainees are never paid like a normal employee. Since a traineeship should be done within a limited time framework, have the goal of introducing young people to the job world and let them learn on the workplace, that's fine. However, a minimum salary is necessary, at least to cover the basic living expenses, also because trainees often carry out a great amount of work in the company/organisation they work for. So, the allowance could be calculated on the basis of the average costs of the city where the traineeship is done; a table could be created with a minimum remuneration corresponding to each geographical area and the companies/organisations offering traineeships should refer to this table for the minimum salary of the trainees. Otherwise, an alternative solution would be starting to offer job positions suitable for young people that have just finished their studies, without asking for five/ten years work experiences and degrees and certificates of every kind. Internships are good to have a first work experience, but collecting four/five traineeships in your cv because you cannot find a normal job could also be counter-productive.
The theory: Quality Framework on Traineeships which recommends fair conditions. The practice: Young graduates are used as free labour, working the same hours as any full-time worker and generating unshared profit for the company. The consequences: Only young people whose parents can afford to pay for their living while they complete their internships (mainly in expensive capital cities) can get work experience and eventually enter the labour market. The impact: inhereted inequality and social class, valuable people left feeling frustrated and rejected. The solution: make this type of abuse illegal and require that companies pay the minimum wage. Establish a supplementary program with an appropriate budget where SMEs that prove that they will really offer proper training focused on the intern and not on getting free labour can participate and get economic assistance that will go directly to paying the minimum wage to that intern. At the end of the day this is a very serious issue where matters such as fair employment and social justice intertiwne.
The concept of internship is totally misused nowadays and has become a synonym for volunteer. An internship should be a traineeship, should be aimed at mostly students and should include compulsory training from the employer. It should be illegal to ask interns to have a high level of studies, I once saw an internship offer in which it said that they were looking for a PhD student! From my experience as "long-term" intern, I have never received a proper training and I have always been treated like a a full-time employee, for this reason I strongly believe that trainees should get the minimum wage set in the country they work in (if it exists). Minimum wages in Europe were put in place for a reason, let's not play around it. Internships lead young people to poverty and exclude those that don't have the means to do them, therefore, it's a completely unfair system that should end. An intern is a worker and contributes to the organisation or company he/she works for and should be treated as such. There should be an end to taking advantage of young people for an economical and political crisis they didn't start.
The solution for me seems rather simple. Either it's a volunteer or an intern. An intern should get paid, at least 50-60% of the minimum wage or more, the remaining 40-50% of the salary is the cost of training and teaching. The cost of living in a particular city should be taken into consideration. As for internships at NGOs they should also be remunerated if the NGO's budget allows it, otherwise the position should be intern-volunteer. I understand that the employer has to spend time helping the intern or teaching them some skills or correcting their work, but still, an intern does perform some work and this work should be remunerated. A situation in which an employer takes on an intern only to have some "free workforce", which is quite often the case, should be prohibited. A new legal instrument of "internship contract" should be introduced, that would specify obligations of the parties, including minimum remuneration imposed by the law.