“They don’t train you, they don’t pay you and they make money with you”


The fellows are celebrating: their future statute is getting closer. On Friday it was learned that the Ministry of Labor plans to ensure a minimum wage and the enjoyment of vacations and holidays, among other rights. A piece of news that all the young people interviewed by RTVE.es have welcomed with joy and hope, but, above all, with a “it was time”.

Ana, a Tourism degree student who is looking for her second internship, knows first-hand the precarious situation that has made them welcome the promises of improvements with open arms. “Many companies do not pay you and, even if they tell you that they are training you, they make money with you and take advantage of you”tells RTVE.es.

Cristina is one of those interns unpaid. He is studying a higher degree in Dietetics and is trained in a hospital for seven hours a day, about 35 hours per week. Her work is similar to that of salaried women, but her expenses are not covered. She doesn’t even give her the sanitary uniform and the regulation shoes that she “yes or yes” she has to wear. She and two other students even work two weekends a month, an extra that, like transportation, is also left uncompensated. “They pay me absolutely nothing,” he insists, but you need to do them to get the title.

Now the young hopes that the status of scholarship holders ensures their rights. Ana thinks the same way, to whom her last interview to do an internship as a receptionist in a hotel left her “in shock”. Upon arriving at the establishment, she discovered something that she did not notice in the offer: “I had to work from Monday to Sunday”. Her face changed instantly. “I asked him if he wouldn’t have a day off then and he replied that the world of hospitality was like that,” she narrates. When dealing with extracurricular internships, those not compulsory to finish studies, he rejected them. A luck that not everyone has.

Undervalued, unmotivated and working for false promises

Andrés Hernández studies Law and Political Science at the University of Valencia and is about to finish his curricular internship at a consultancy firm. He has been there since February, like ten other fellows, and he confesses that the experience has not been what he expected. Although he knew that no financial compensation was offered, he did think that it would help his training. However, he has met tedious, mechanical and repetitive tasks, -those that nobody wants to do-, which have made you feel undervalued.

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“The company was not prepared to train students. What I have learned has been by force of habits and prior knowledge,” he explains to RTVE.es. The young man leaves his training without being “at all clear” about the skills that a professional with his degree would have in the work context, without any type of feedback and with some discouragement. “In a month I will have two degrees, but I am treated as if I had none“, it is as if the skills acquired in five years “were worthless” during that training, he says.

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In some cases, lack of learning isn’t the only thing fellows face. They also run into “false promises” about future labor contracts. Many of Ana’s colleagues have experienced it first-hand: “At first the boss tells them they are interested in hiring someone and then nothing, no matter how well they work,” she says. Cristina, for example, has been encouraged to work more hours than her account by promising her a future contract that she still doesn’t know if it will come.

“They promise you one thing and when you’ve done their job they say goodbye“, adds the Tourism student.

The “lucky ones” sometimes charge less than three euros an hour

Some “lucky ones” like Carmen, who is studying Law, Political Science and Public Management, have managed to find paid internships. In his case they are extracurricular, in the Green Office of a University. Until July 31, she is guaranteed financial compensation for a scholarship of 300 euros per month, a figure that is about 280 euros. work at part time and this amount represents an aid of less than three euros per hour.

We charge very little for the work we do

He is lucky, he says, because he likes what he does and feels that the training is positive, however, he knows that the “salary” is far from fair. “We are very comfortable here, but the reality is that we charge very little for the work we do”, afflicts Everyone in this office is an intern and is under the supervision of a professor. The students are in charge of the total mass of the work and the volume of it makes Carmen feel “as if she were the employee of a travel office or an agency”.

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But although sometimes he has to stay longer than necessary, that time is later returned to him another day. It also has facilities to be absent if they are sick or to arrive a little later if they need it, something that, as common as it may sound, is not the order of the day. Especially in extracurricular practices, as mentioned by the youth organization RUGE-UGT.

The fraud of some extracurricular practices

According to the RUGE-UGT spokesperson, Eduardo Magaldi, the main complaint among curricular internship students is usually that the company is not capable of providing them with training corresponding to their degree or that the tasks they perform are too automatic and tedious. However, the most serious situation usually occurs in some extracurriculars. “This is where we find the most fraud”points to RTVE.es.

The use of figure of the false intern It is more usual in this type of training, controlled to a lesser extent by the educational center. For Magaldi, they are the ones that are doing the most damage to the Spanish internship model. “They incorporate young people for six and 12 months to carry out the structural work of the company”, but then they are not offered any contract, but the circle begins again with other interns.

Extracurricular internships are also used as a form of “talent recruitment” that RUGE describes as “abuse.” They offer the training periods through the employment centers of the universities and other institutions with the aim of test different young people for free. “If they don’t like that person, they find someone else,” she explains. But to make this evaluation they demand obligations that do not correspond to thembecause, as the association recalls, “they are still being formed”.

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The decree that regulates the external academic internships of university students to date -approved in 2014- also specifies the formative nature that the internships must have. Some activities that in no case may lead to the substitution of the “job-specific” labor provision. The reality, however, is different: “We know many companies in which 70% of the workforce are interns”says the person in charge of the youth of UGT.

The Government’s plan for the status and requests of fellows

On Thursday, the Ministry of Labor presented its plan to the social dialogue table that negotiates the status of the intern. The project includes respect for holidaysa minimum remuneration to cover the travel or living expenses and the prohibition of night shifts or shifts. Also, the government has proposed limit the number of interns depending on the size of the companies: those with up to ten employees could have only one and those with between 11 and 30 workers could have two.

I want to be able to report

For their part, the students have welcomed the progress, but have emphasized the need for guarantees regarding the training quality. In this sense, Andrés Hernández, who is part of the Coordinator of Student Representatives of Public Universities (CREUP), claims mechanisms to monitor that companies comply with plans deformation. “I want to have the ability to report,” she says.

The Tourism student, Ana, also points out the importance of taking into account the place of residence of the scholarship recipient and the distance from the center where they go to carry out the internship when establishing the financial aid. Carmen, on the other hand, advocates compulsory to register scholarship holders at the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. A proposal to which Magaldi adds the creation of a national registry of practices, something that would help to carry out an effective evaluation and control of them.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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