29.04.2024 | Statements

Statement: EU, Leave Unpaid Training Behind!

The National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences – SAMOK and the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) demand that the European Union prohibit unpaid internships. Although the European Commission published proposals to take measures to improve the quality of traineeships in March, the measures are not sufficient. At present, the Commission’s proposal for a directive does not obligate Member States to change their legislation to prohibit unpaid traineeships included in higher education. The measures only include a recommendation to make internships paid.

Many higher education degrees include several traineeship periods. For example, students of social welfare and healthcare at universities of applied sciences can spend up to 80 working weeks doing internships, which corresponds to almost half of the entire degree.

“Frequently, internships require students to participate in work tasks without proper remuneration. This places students in an unfair position as they bring valuable contributions to the working community without being compensated for their hard work,” says Totti Korpua, a member of the SYL Board.

Unpaid internships included in higher education programmes are regularly used to replace other paid workers, making such traineeships highly questionable. Credits from traineeships do not compensate for a student’s work at a sufficient level, and unpaid traineeships can, at worst, create additional financial challenges for the student.

Traineeships prepare students for work and often provides the first contact with their field. In addition, it is an opportunity for students to create networks and, in some cases, even find permanent jobs.

Once basic needs have been secured, students can in their training focus on learning and development and give their all when performing their tasks. This creates a fertile environment for growth and professional development from the perspectives of both the student and the employer.

Paid training helps fight burnout and fatigue. When trainees receive compensation for their contribution, they feel that their work is valued and that they are respected as part of the working community. This can help maintain motivation and reduce stress, which in turn contributes to learning, a healthy working environment, and effective work performance.

“In fully paid internships, both the student and the employer win. Both parties are more likely to achieve their goals, and the transition from studies to work is smoother and more successful,” says Asta Nieminen, a member of the SAMOK Board.

For further inquiries, please contact:

Asta Nieminen
Member of the Board, SAMOK
[email protected]
050 389 1002

Totti Korpua
Member of the Board, SYL
[email protected]
044 906 5001