OPINION

What traineeships?

No matter what word you use to refer to a traineeship or internship (or «stage» to use the French term that has been adopted in Greek), the question that is being argued is whether these programs are being paid for with funds from the European Union or from the state budget. This is another issue for political debate on employment, unemployment, growth and the younger generation. An internship is supposed to provide work experience; it is the opportunity for practical experience undertaken for low pay by a graduate in order to become familiar with his or her future work environment, whether in a hospital, a textile mill or at a construction site. It is the best thing Greece has to offer to hundreds of thousands of young people with no other prospects. They are looking for a job; they are offered a six-month «apprenticeship» with a bit of pocket money thrown in. Thousands of young people do traineeships in public services. There is nowhere to put them and nothing for them to do. They are told to go off for a coffee and thus are, in fact, given a true impression of what working in the Greek civil service is like. The question is not who pays for these traineeships, but whether the Greek state can provide something better than simply mocking them and their parents, whether it has job opportunities to offer, incentives for business activity, meritocracy and opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, this feeble client state is standing by passively as one firm after another goes bankrupt and thousands of jobs are lost. The only thing it can do is to trade in increasingly cheap hopes. At one time, the state used to trade in appointments (not actual work, just the positions), then it resorted to short-term contracts with a promise of future permanent tenure. Now it is trading in traineeships and pocket money.