Interns and outcomes: Just how effective are internships as a bridge to stable employment?

EMPLOYMENT Working Paper No. 241

New and emerging forms of ‘non-standard’ employment are coming to dominate young people’s early labour market experiences. Amongst these, internships are increasingly becoming an integral part of the school-to-work transition. Yet little is known about their effectiveness in providing a bridge to longer term employment and/or employability. The paper builds on existing ILO work on contractual arrangements for young people undertaken by the Youth Employment Programme, and focuses on the impact of internships on young people’s labour market experiences.

The paper reviews the existing evidence and analyses primary survey data collected by the European Commission and the Fair Internship Initiative (FII) in order to assess the design features which contribute to better internships. The paper shows that paid and well-designed internships payoff: Young people with a paid internship are more likely to find a job than those who were not remunerated. The presence of a mentor, similar working conditions to regular employees, including access to health insurance, and sufficient duration of internships also contribute to increasing the effectiveness of internships.