Traineeships have emerged as a crucial pathway for young individuals to acquire valuable experience and kickstart their careers. Every week, I am inundated with emails from aspiring lawyers and architects throughout Europe who are eager to gain hands-on experience in planning law specifically in Malta.

A recent Eurobarometer survey revealed that a significant majority of young people (78%) have participated in at least one traineeship, with 19% considering it their first work experience

Members of the European Parliament however have now adopted with a strong majority, calling on the Commission to introduce a directive on Quality Traineeships and update the existing Quality Framework for Traineeships  by introducing binding rules for EU countries.

Clearly, the European Parliament means well. It is calling for legislation to ensure high-quality traineeships across the European Union. This includes establishing minimum standards for traineeships, such as regulations on duration, remuneration, and social protection. They also aim to improve access to traineeships for individuals with disabilities and those from vulnerable backgrounds, as well as promote cross-border opportunities.

Although the commendable intention behind protecting the rights of young individuals is understood, there are apprehensions about the potential consequences for internship availability. Small businesses and non-profit organizations, constrained by limited budgets, may face difficulties in financially supporting interns, which could result in a decrease or even the complete elimination of internship opportunities. Consequently, certain unpaid internships that previously offered valuable practical skills and experience in specific fields might no longer be available, depriving individuals of valuable learning opportunities.

Furthermore, the transition to paid internships could result in a loss of flexibility. Unpaid internships often offer flexibility in terms of working hours and duration, allowing interns to balance their education or part-time jobs. Paid internships may bring more structured arrangements, which might be less accommodating for individuals with diverse schedules or responsibilities.

Ultimately, these factors may result in increased competition for a restricted number of internship positions, which is contrary to the goals Europe is striving to achieve.

I sincerely hope that my concerns and reservations about the said drawbacks are proven wrong.