Study on a possible framework to facilitate transnational mobility for placements at enterprises
DG Education and Culture, 21 April 2011
1) Method of Investigation
The methodological approach of the study consisted of a combination of desk research and a wide stakeholder consultation at national and EU level. It covered all EU Member States and the EFTA/ EEA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey, and Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which participate under the preparatory measures phase.
The tasks comprising the study were:
- Task 0: Inception phase
- Task 1: Desk research
- Task 2: Interviews
- Task 3: Analysis and draft final report
- Task 4: Workshop with the Commission staff
- Task 5: Final report
The research team has carried out and analyzed sixty interviews with the following stakeholders:34 national LLP agencies, 3 Commission officials, 10 Green Paper respondents (or organizations recommended by them), 7 EU umbrella organizations, 3 Chambers of Commerce/ Chambers of Arts and Crafts and 3 Case studies of projects/ organizations in the field. A workshop with Commission officials chaired by GHK took place on 3 December 2010. A document including an outline of a possible common framework for facilitating the transnational mobility for placements at enterprises was discussed in the workshop. The results from the workshop and the completed synthesis of all information gathered have been incorporated in this Final Report.
The study aimed to provide the European Commission with the necessary information to undertake possible action in order to address current obstacles to the transnational mobility of trainees (covering students and apprentices in initial vocational training, people on the labour market and higher education students).
Several challenges relate to transnational mobility of trainees. Countries not only differ in terms of their legislative framework, but also with respect to the sending and host organization’s understanding and expectations of the responsibility they should assume for the trainee. In addition, there is currently no existing EU legislation specifically regulating the transnational mobility of trainees and apprentices, meaning that transnational mobility is only addressed by “soft” measures at EU level. This has given rise to several challenges relating to legal status of trainees/ apprentices, conditions for a work placement, access to social benefits and insurance arrangements, in particular:
A recognized legal status of a trainee does not always exist, leading to lack of recognition of trainees’ rights, adoption of ad hoc arrangements, unequal quality of placements and ambiguity over the duty of care for the trainee
The conditions of work placements vary widely as some countries have specific regulations in place, while others do not, leading to uncertainty over which law applies, poor alignment of the training agreement to regulations and what conditions a training agreement should cover;
Social benefits may be transferable for transnational traineeships, often depending on the formality of traineeship and whether it is part of an official programme, but not always, which creates uncertainty over access to these entitlements
Responsibility over health and liability insurance arrangements is ambiguous, and often an ad hoc arrangement, leading to inappropriate or lack of cover for the trainee.
Interviewees also reported that economic benefits (for employers and countries) are not widely understood. It was stated that often employers consider trainees/apprenticeship placements as too burdensome and of adding little value to businesses. Explaining the benefits of placements may make employers more interested in participating in transnational work placements.
The outcomes of the study confirm that there is a need to facilitate transnational mobility of trainees and apprentices, especially by further clarifying the contextual, legal and regulatory differences between the countries involved in EU transnational learning mobility programmes, by improving overall access to information and by introducing more concrete requirements and criteria for the overall organization of traineeships and apprenticeships.
The study concluded that there are:
Differences in legal status or lack of legal status of trainees/apprentices, which may lead to lack of recognition of trainees’ rights and restricts access to benefits that are linked to these rights;
Differences in legislation and practices that define working conditions for traineeship/apprenticeship, which may lead to differences in entitlements linked to the work placement, even where the work placement takes place in identical circumstances
Differences in legislation and procedures that relate to access to social benefits and health and safety insurance, which create ambiguity over who is responsible for ensuring the access to these or whether access to these exists (in case of social benefits)
The final study recommendations include a comprehensive ‘policy package’, comprised by four (4) instruments which complement one another.
The four ‘instruments’ proposed are:
A. Recommendations to the Commission on changes to be made at the level of the current and/or post LLP
B. Framework to facilitate transnational mobility for placements at enterprises
C. Guidance instrument in the form of a FAQ (e.g. “Did you know that…”), including an annexed Checklist
D. Recommendation on topics to be included in a formal policy paper from the Commission.