Traineeships have become an important gateway through which young people enter the labour market. However, although traineeships have become standard in European labour markets, their spread has been accompanied by growing concerns as to learning content and working conditions. To facilitate access to employment, traineeships should offer good quality learning content and adequate working conditions.
The EESC agrees with the Commission on the need to change the rules of the Parliament and of the Council on the European Social Fund and the Structural Funds, but regrets that the funds for the Initiative for Youth Employment do not result from a strengthening of the EU budget but are taken from the overall budget for cohesion. The Committee is also convinced that the foreseen amount, i.e. € 6 billion, is insufficient given the magnitude of the problem and the urgency to solve it. Finally, the Committee reiterates that the maximum age giving access to the Youth Guarantee should be increased to 30 years to cover for people who are still in a transition phase from education to employment.
The aim of this recast is to allow the EU to attract talented non-EU students and researchers, while taking into consideration a certain risk of exploitation, to which trainees and au-pairs are particularly exposed. The proposal amends two existing directives: 1/ the “Students’ Directive” (Council Directive 2004/114/EC on the conditions of admission of third country nationals for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service): extending its scope to remunerated trainees and au-pairs and making mandatory provisions on unremunerated trainees; 2/ the “Researchers’ Directive” (Council Directive 2005/71/EC on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for the purposes of scientific research).
Youth unemployment is a top policy priority of the EESC. Monitoring youth employment measures closely, the Committee is putting forward recommendations based on current practices in Member States. It also suggests that only a strategy geared towards growth and aimed at strengthening competitiveness and restoring the confidence of investors and households, as well as sustainable investment and an economic recovery plan, can stimulate demand for labour.