The report on Traineeships under the Youth Guarantee looks at how traineeship schemes can be successful learning experiences for young people, in supporting them to acquire essential skills for the labour market. It also takes a look at different measures that contribute to the quality of traineeships and prevent their misuse. This report is one in a series of five reports on Youth Guarantee delivery, presenting existing practices from the ground from the first five years of its implementation.

A smooth transition from education to employment is thought to improve the chances of young people on the labour market. For this reason, the 2013 Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee (YG) called on Member States to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The principle of the Youth Guarantee has been reaffirmed by the European Pillar of Social Rights.

This report focuses on traineeships, which, over the past three decades, have become an important entry point into the labour market for young people. They are prevalent for example in the creative industries, media/journalism and in the tourism and hospitality industry. Traineeships are understood as a limited period of work practice, whether paid or not, which includes a learning and training component, undertaken in order to gain practical and professional experience with a view to improving employability and facilitating the transition to regular employment. They can help to make the transition to the world of work smoother, by allowing trainees to gain valuable on-the-job work experience.

Employers also benefit. Amongst other aspects, traineeships are a way of screening potential job candidates, a process that has become more complex and costly as jobs increasingly involve fewer routine tasks and more varied responsibilities. They also allow access to an extended talent pool and can help to create a positive employer image on the labour market.

There is empirical evidence suggesting that certain forms of traineeship, notably those associated with educational programmes and well-structured active labour market policies (ALMPs), can be effective in facilitating school-to-work transition. Many examples of successful traineeship schemes can be found in Europe. Yet there have been concerns about traineeships which potentially replace jobs or open doors for misuse. There is evidence of traineeships with little or no learning content, in which trainees are asked to carry out menial tasks unrelated to their career interests, with inadequate social protection or little or no remuneration or compensation. National authorities are in a central position to design and implement traineeship schemes that prevent such misuse.

In response to growing concerns regarding the quality of traineeships, the Council adopted the Recommendation on the Quality Framework for Traineeships (QFT) in March 2014. The aim of this framework is to ensure that young people can, in safe conditions, acquire high quality work experience which increases their employability. The QFT should form the quality basis for traineeship offers under the Youth Guarantee, although Member States still have a large degree of freedom in regulating national traineeship conditions, since the Recommendation is not legally binding.

Little is known about traineeship practices and challenges in their implementation. This report aims to fill this gap and to provide insights into how traineeships are implemented in the context of the Youth Guarantee. The first Sections of this report focus on the role of traineeships in the society and present the Quality Framework for Traineeships as well as other initiatives aiming to ensure the quality of traineeships and to tackle their misuse. Sector 5 outlines key considerations to take into account when developing and implementing traineeships, based on academic evidence, existing evaluations as well as examples of traineeship measures under the Youth Guarantee.

Find the report here