In September 2012, the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic increased to 8.4% (almost half a million persons). Nevertheless, many employers find it difficult to recruit skilled workers. Currently, internships are what companies most frequently expect to find in CVs of fresh graduates. A new project ‘Internships in companies – Education through practice’ offers a chance to meet this requirement.

In June 2012, the two-year project was launched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The project is cofinanced from the European Social Fund (ESF) and implemented by the continuing education fund (Fond dalšího vzdělávání – FDV).

Internships in companies aim at helping both fresh graduates who fail to find employment due to lack of professional practice as well as other disadvantaged groups, such as long-term unemployed and persons returning to the labour market. The internships are, however, also suitable for companies failing to find an adequate candidate for a specific position. The programmes will enable them to train and educate trainees in line with their own needs. Trainees are given an opportunity to restore their working habits and get reaccustomed to work procedures, get an update in fields undergoing fast technological development during their absence, etc.

Internships last between one to six months and providers are paid the fixed costs for placements. On average, a three-month internship costs amount to EUR 2 400 to 4 800. Companies must be able to provide a mentor for the trainee and create conditions for implementation of the internship based on a contract between the FDV and trainee.

Trainees are not entitled to wages, but they receive a contribution for food and travel expenses, and in exceptional cases also for accommodation. In addition to new knowledge and professional experience, the internship increases their competitiveness on the labour market. It also provides them with a possibility for employment in the company providing the internship. Upon completion of an internship, the trainee receives a certificate recording the acquired professional skills.

Persons receiving unemployment benefits who participate in an internship do not lose their right to benefits. Therefore the project might become a very interesting opportunity for the unemployed. The internships are based on current skill needs of employers and they represent both managerial and administrative positions as well as craft positions.

Registration of applicants as well as providers began in mid-September and by the end of the first month there were almost 270 registered applicants from among employers and more than 1 200 applicants for internships. In total, there will be 5 000 participants trained within the project.