Last month, under the initiative of Belgrade Open School, individual consultative meetings were held with representatives of trade unions, Labour and Education ministries, American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia, Serbian Association of Employers, representatives of “Education to Employment” programme. Meetings, under which the proposals for normative changes in the regimes of performing internships were presented, were realised with the support of European Union and Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit.
These meetings had a unified opinion that today’s youth is faced with a series of barriers while searching for a job. As the formal education is uncoordinated with the labour market needs, the importance of internships as a process of learning while acquiring work experience is becoming unquestionable. Therefore, some constructive solutions were given in order to, through draft amendments to the Labour law, improve the situation and decrease youth unemployment. Main conclusion is that, through mentorship and monitoring of learning objectives, it is necessary to secure a good quality of internships.
Research in Serbia has shown that young people have positive attitudes towards internships, but that 50% of young people were in a program of a non-mentoring internship program, 78% took part in a non-contractual internship program, and even 90% of the interns were not paid. Such data is not surprising given the findings of the Belgrade Open School analysis, which indicate that there is no adequate contractual form in Serbia for regulating the relationship between those who are offering internship program and interns and that there are no mechanisms for ensuring the quality of internship.
Internships have numerous positive effects for decreasing the length of transition from education to labour market, improvement of knowledge, skills and competences, acquiring experience and exploring career options. However, these effects can be anticipated only if internships have quality, mentorship, monitoring objectives and are limited in duration, within contractual obligation in the beginning and certificate at the end of internship.
In the following period, Belgrade Open School will continue its consultations process related to the proposal for normative changes in the regimes of performing internships and organise events for promotion of importance of quality internships.
This initiative is being implemented under the project WeB4YES - Western Balkan Civil Society Organisations for Youth Employment Support, coordinated by Belgrade Open School, with the financial support of the EU.