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?


You can't control the performance of the intern or the company. But if the company is getting money from a cliente because their providing a service/product etc...then the intern should also. Its only fair that this happens. Forbid unpaid internships. The "alternative" is getting paid. Simple. In Portugal there is a law that allows companies to NOT pay for 3 month internships as long a they pay for a food allowance and transportation. Guess what. Some don't even do that, abuse of extra hours and replace the work of freelancers/other resources with those interns. It cheap or free labourers...and dispose of them after the 3 months. Simple, isn't it? Whatever is the work should be país or else it's called "voluntary work" or charity but that is something very different.
There are 2 problems at once. Employers don't want to spend a lot of time and efforts to teach young interns. Normally they want just to give a simple routine task and get the job done. Interns want exactly the opposite. So if the employer doesn't want to teach then he has to pay. If he babysits the intern then he shouldn't pay. So there can be 2 types of interships, paid and not. How to evaluate the quality of unpaid internship provided by employer? There can be assigned a supervisor from the intern's university which will be notified what tasks and what assistance the intern gets and in the end he will give a conclusion.
Pay interns based on performance to incentivize both parties
This question is wrong - it shouldn't be a question of having internships. Stop internships altogether. If people want work done they have to pay for it. Ensure all EU countries have a minimum wage law and that this is enforced.
I read the Quality Framework on Traineeships and it is a great document. Unfortunately, I didn't hear about it before visiting this website and I am sure many more youngsters who are potential interns are unaware of this standard setting document. So definitely, at least in Portugal, more could be done to increase young people's awareness about their rights as interns. But we are also facing a classical problem: the distance between Law and reality. In Portugal, cases of abusive or low-quality internships have been brought out by the media. Personally, I have friends who were subjected to fake internships - which taught them almost nothing and rather used them as cheap employees. The problem is that many times youngsters see low-quality internships as a job opportunity, especially when normal jobs are scarce. So the issue is one of social and economic hardships faced by many youngsters in general. Maybe one solution is to provide more internships in state institutions which should, by default, act more accordingly to the Quality Framework. Another possibility is for companies to offer mixed interships - 50/50 of a job that a company needs done and a job that meets the needs of experience and development of the youngster.