Workplace Training
Do internships and work placements help the un-employed, or are they just a way to secure free labour, and trim budgets?


Nina and Ksenija are two girls who have a lot in common. They both graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Osijek in Croatia. Not only that friendship binds them, but also the fact that they are both on the workplace training programme. There are around 10,000 young people who have been involved in this program in Croatia in the past two years. 


HOW IT ALL STARTED...

"The Workplace Training Programme" was conceived in 2010 as part of the "National Employment Promotion Plan". This plan was created according to the recommendations and guidelines of the European Union. This programme intends to provide internships and jobs to  unemployed people who have recently graduated or have no work experience in their respective fields. 

Nina didn’t have to wait long after completing her master’s degree for the first opportunity to work in her profession. She graduated with a degree in English and started an internship three months later in a secondary school in Osijek. Ksenija got her chance six months after completing her degree in psychology and is now an intern in a company. Ksenija considers herself lucky. She knows people who graduated at the same time as she did and are still unemployed, waiting for their chance to use skills that they gained after five years of studying. “A real job (for a normal salary) is impossible to find, at least in my profession and in the area I live in”, said Ksenija.

PROS AND CONS

For the people who are included in this programme the "Croatian Employment Service" provides the cost of health insurance and safety at work for the first twelve months of professional training. They also provide financial assistance in the form of a training allowance of 1,600 Croatian kuna (approximately 220 euros) per month.

Nina and Ksenija agree on the main benefits of the programme. Instead of being on the job market they get to spend a year working and gaining valuable work experience. It means a lot for them because gaining practical experience differs greatly from studying from books. But this programme also has disadvantages. 

Nina believes that employers are often not familiar with the details of what people who are on the programme should do and what their role is. 

Some people fear that this programme will enable employers to exploit workplace trainees. Furthermore, it is thought that employers won’t feel any need to hire permanent employees because they will have a constant supply of free workplace trainees. 

A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH THEIR PARENTS BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?

Anđelko Akrap, professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Zagreb says that young people with average incomes cannot afford a flat without the help of their parents. “This issue is ignored, and it is well known that without state intervention in this sphere it becomes virtually impossible for young people to have their own flat."

Ksenija thinks that a major drawback of the programme is the impossibility of independence and starting a family. “A young person that needs to pay rent and utilities (and most likely a monthly pass for public transport) cannot survive on 1,600 croatian kuna per month”, says Ksenija. She thinks the workplace training programme suits people who are living with their parents, as she is.

THE NEED FOR ECONOMIC REVIVAL

Dunja Potočnik, a research associate at the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, believes that we cannot expect any improvement in the situation until the economy recovers. She notes that the state cannot create jobs where there is no need.