PES hails new Directive to support quality traineeships and end exploitation

Photo: Jason Goodman

Photo: Jason Goodman

The Party of European Socialists (PES) commends European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit for taking clear action to improve working conditions for trainees, including pay, inclusiveness and quality of traineeships in the EU.

The proposed Directive on improving and enforcing working conditions for trainees and combatting regular employment relationships disguised as traineeships – combined with a proposal to revise the 2014 Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships – will help to stamp out exploitation of young workers and promote quality and inclusive opportunities, fair pay and access to social protection.

PES President Stefan Löfven said:

“For many young people, quality traineeships are a practical way into the job market. They can gain experience, learn new skills and eventually find a good quality job. At the same time, employers have an opportunity to attract, train and retain smart, highly-motivated and innovative young workers.

“But for too many young workers, traineeships are not up to standard. A quality traineeship requires fair and transparent working conditions and an adequate learning content. It must never be an opportunity for unscrupulous employers to exploit young workers.

“Thanks to Nicolas Schmit we are hitting back against exploitation with a strong directive that will improve opportunities for young people. The European Parliament and member states must urgently get behind this agenda.

“The last Council recommendation on traineeships is a decade old. We are grateful that Nicolas Schmit has put this topic back at the top of the agenda.”

In 2019, the latest available reliable data, there were an estimated 3.1 million trainees in the EU, with numbers expected to grow. Approximately half of all trainees (1.6 million) were enrolled in paid traineeships.

The proposed Directive will help Member States improve and enforce good quality working conditions for trainees, as well as combat regular employment relationships disguised as traineeships. The proposal is anchored in: the principle of non-discrimination; ensuring traineeships are not used to disguise regular jobs; allowing workers’ representatives to engage on behalf of trainees; and better reporting of malpractice and poor working conditions.

The Directive is accompanied by a reinforced Council Recommendation that applies to all trainees regardless of their employment status, including traineeships that are part of formal education and training curricula and those required for accessing specific professions.