The Portuguese Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity hosted a Peer Review in Lisbon that brought together ministry officials and independent experts from ten countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Serbia), as well as representatives from DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities at the European Commission.
The 'Professional Traineeship Programme for Young Adults' presented by the Host Country is a consolidated programme focused on the integration of highly qualified young people into the labour market by complementing their basic pre-existing qualifications with practical on-the-job experience in a company for a maximum period of 12 months. The traineeships allow young people to get a first contact with the labour market and, at the same time, help companies, particularly SMEs, increase their awareness of new knowledge and competences. The programme aimed at enhancing not only the employability of the individual but also the innovation in the host company. The success of this measure has led to its inclusion as an active labour market policy in the anti-crisis package put forward by the Portuguese government.
The main conclusions of discussions have been summarised as follows
- Due to the crisis, young graduates are an increasingly emerging target group. This type of initiatives can potentially address not only graduate unemployment but also under-employment.
- Measures which combine “real” work experience with trainee plan/training seem most effective in ensuring a smooth transition into the labour market.
- Longer traineeship measures appear more effective than short courses/work placements.
- Education and training need to be more relevant to labour market needs. Companies are demanding young people with the right skills for the current employment opportunities and the capacity to adapt to the fast-changing labour market. There is also an emphasis on providing better guidance services to encourage students to pursuit degrees/qualifications which faced shortages. Social dialogue is crucial to improve the capacity to anticipate and match labour market and skills needs.
- This type of measure can contribute to changing employer culture regarding indication and investment in training.
- The role of tutor is important in supporting the trainee, identifying his/her strengths and development needs. However this should be clearly monitored to ensure that it effectively contributes to the development and progression of the trainee.
- Cost-sharing arrangements ensure better commitment from the employer. But some countries thought it would be a barrier because of companies not used to that practice.
- Link between innovation and employment policy should be further elaborated. The aim is not only maintaining actual jobs through adaptation but the creation of new and better jobs.
- The simplification of procedures, such us the on-line application and the reduction of paperwork, is important to cut bureaucracy and attract the companies.
- These initiatives must be cost-effective. More studies and evaluations are needed to provide the evidence to underpin the investment in this type of measure. It is important to understand the potential deadweight effects, what it means for wages of graduates and people progressing in their career and the the quality of the contracts obtained. This needs to be followed up at different points in time.
All reports will be published on the Mutual Learning Programme website (www.mutual-learning-employment.net) as soon as they are finished.