New Frontiers of Precariousness. Internships and the Training to a Precarious Life

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Rossana CILLO, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Over the past few years, the European young workers have experienced increasing job insecurity and growing unemployment.  Policy makers, employers and educational institutions have promoted internships as a fundamental training experience for the integration of educational pathways with practical experience and the insertion in the labour market. However, the recourse to internships is increasingly related to unpaid/low-paid work and exploitative work experiences.

Referring to the research “Internstage: internships, work placements, volunteering: stages on the road to decent work or to insecurity?” and focusing on the Italian case, this paper explores the impact of the growing diffusion of internships on the labour market and on the working life of youth.

In Italy internships have spread since the last decade, after the implementation of the Bologna Accords and the labour market de-regulation. They have been promoted as an active labour market policy, however, currently only a small part of half a million of young people that every year has one or more internships is hired, usually with precarious employment contracts.

The intern may be given low-profile tasks – which devaluate the internship’s training and “train” the intern to accept her/his own devaluation. Alternatively, after a brief training, the intern is required to meet the standards of a regular employee in terms of working hours, productivity, and discipline, but with no other rights but those of an intern. Moreover employers are using internships to substitute paid work with unpaid work and work with rights with work without rights, thus resulting in a general downgrading of labour conditions. For these reasons, the internships’ “training to work” socializes among youth the idea that the precariousness is the rule and that obedience, competition and individualism are the only relationships that can exist in the workplace – thus resulting in a veritable disciplining to the neoliberal values.