The Czech Republic, as well as the entire European Union, is confronted with a lack of employment opportunities for young people. Most companies do not want to recruit graduates due to lack of practical experience. The internships for young job-seekers project provides an opportunity for young graduates to gain working experience and thus increases employability and competitiveness of future graduates on the labour market. The project also aims to promote contacts between employers and potential employees.
The three-year project (2012-15) is being implemented by the continuing education fund (Fond dalšího vzdělávání – FDV) and is financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The project is expected to provide support for 840 pupils and students from across the country.
Pupils in the last grade of secondary schools and students in the last two semesters of tertiary technical schools (VOŠ) and higher education institutions (VŠ) are entitled to participate. Selected internship needs to be in line with the trainee’s field of study. Internships last between one and three months (50 to 300 hours) and can also be completed during the summer holidays depending on an individual agreement between company and trainee. An e-learning course focusing on soft-skills development is a compulsory part of the internship. Candidates also receive individual counselling and career orientation. They learn how to write a cover letter or CV and they acquire necessary skills for first interviews. Through participation in an internship, they acquire practical experience; get familiar with the working process and enterprise culture, and get an opportunity to apply their knowledge in practice. Internships are paid for; pupils and students get CZK 60 (approximately EUR 2.5) per working hour. The project does not improve or modify school curricula. It does not interfere in any way with school duties of applicants; it is purely a free-time voluntary activity.
Internships may be provided by the private sector or the non-profit sector. Internships provide employers with an opportunity to test young job-seekers before concluding a long-term employment relationship. Trainees selected by companies perform determined tasks supervised by an experienced worker – a mentor appointed by the internship provider. Trainees’ salaries and internship costs in the form of partial refunds of the mentor’s salary are paid to companies ex-post from the project budget.
The first internships were launched in June 2013. Interest of students as well as employers keeps growing and in line with that, expected numbers of new internships is also increasing. Economics and administration, sales, marketing and management are the most demanded fields by trainees.