Companies and public establishments ignore the fee of contributions for unpaid interns | Economy | EUROtoday

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Private firms and public establishments don’t assume their share of the brand new contribution for unpaid internships in scholarships. It is a tiny value, a most of 10 euros monthly per scholar, however they aren’t taking cost. This is obvious from the information supplied by a number of public universities on the request of EL PAÍS concerning January, the primary month of utility of this new proper. What was established as a reservation, that the college paid 5% of the contribution (95% is sponsored by Social Security), is regular. According to the agreements signed by the colleges with the scholar recipients in January, the educational heart pays the contribution of just about all of them.

The royal decree, which got here into utility on January 1 and derives from the 2021 settlement on pensions, establishes the next: “In the case of unpaid training internships, compliance with Social Security obligations will correspond to the company, institution or entity in which those are developed.” After this start line, an exception is contemplated: “Unless the agreement or cooperation agreement that, where applicable, is signed for its implementation, provides that such obligations will correspond to the training center responsible for the training offer.” The knowledge collected by this newspaper doesn’t shock María Antonia Peña, president of the Student Affairs space of ​​the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) and rector of the University of Huelva: “What you have seen by asking each university is what “We already knew before January, that what companies and public institutions had told us is that they were not going to assume anything.”

Sources from the Ministry of Social Security consider it normal that there are complications in the development of this right in the first months, but they are convinced that it will be normalized very soon. The same sources highlight that when the quotation for paid internships was approved in 2011, there were also initial bumps and those were eventually resolved. Likewise, they recall the positions at the social dialogue table: they indicate that the employers agreed on the convenience of the measure and that the universities defended maintaining the proviso that the non-subsidized cost would be paid by them, fearing that too many institutions reject the practices.

The CEOE prefers not to evaluate the data collected by this newspaper: “We are going to wait to see the official data, the Social Security data. We still don't have those that collect that first month of the year.” Likewise, the employers' association highlights that “it must be taken into account that this contribution depends on what universities and companies agree to in their respective agreements.”

According to data from the department directed by Elma Saiz, there are already 106,000 students in unpaid internships registered (adding Vocational Training and university studies), about 86,000 in public entities and 20,000 in companies. The ministry specifies that these companies assume the contribution, but the data provided by the universities to this newspaper indicate that the majority of the payment, at least for this first month, falls on the educational institutions through agreements and cooperation agreements. The FP contribution is completely subsidized, 95% for Social Security and 5% for Education.

Almost all practices, carried out by the university

At the public university with the most students in Spain, the Complutense University of Madrid, 4,503 students carried out unpaid curricular internships in January. Only for 3.5% the private or public company that hosts the students assumes the contribution, compared to the 96.5% in which the Complutense pays. It should be noted that the proportion of private companies that will pay the contribution is higher than that of public institutions: the former pay for 116 of the 964 students (12%) and the latter, for 41 of the 3,309 (1.2%). For its part, the Autonomous University of Madrid pays 85.5% of internships overall, 88.6% in public companies (798 out of 901) and 73.8% in private companies (175 out of 237). At the Rey Juan Carlos University they assume all the contributions, while at the University of Alcalá they indicate that they pay 99%.

The results are similar in Catalan universities. The University of Lleida details that it will assume 5% of the non-subsidized contribution of the 869 students who carried out unpaid curricular internships in January. The Universitat Pompeu Fabra will do the same with its 258 students in this situation, as at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya with its 143. At the Autonomous University of Barcelona they work with the same provision, while at the University of Barcelona they indicate that they will pay the contribution “almost all” unpaid internships, which in January amounted to 4,380. At the Rovira i Virgili University they point out that of their 1,617 college students there’ll solely be one for whom the corporate assumes the contribution.

At the University of Zaragoza, of the 2,714 unpaid internships in January, only in eight cases did the receiving entity assume the contribution (0.3%). The volume at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also tiny, with only 16 students in charge of the company (all private) out of 1,209, 1.3%. In La Rioja, the entity that receives the student pays in 1.2% of the cases, only in two of 168.

They assume the contribution of all unpaid internships at the Public University of Navarra, at the University of the Basque Country, at the University of the Balearic Islands, at the University of Santiago de Compostela, at the University of Vigo, at the University of Alicante, at the Jaume I , at Miguel Hernández and at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena. At the University of La Laguna they give the data by signed agreements: of the 1,786 that applied in January there are only 69 (including two public entities) in which the receiving entity assumes the non-subsidized part of the contribution.

Students at the Faculty of Education of the Complutense University of Madrid.
Students at the Faculty of Education of the Complutense University of Madrid.Mario Bermudo

For their part, the Andalusian public universities detail that the Board has committed to assuming the cost of all unpaid internships carried out in autonomous entities. The University of Córdoba, for example, indicates that this covers around 45% of the cost. The University of Oviedo specifies that they are in the process of signing a similar agreement with the Principality of Asturias, but for now, with the focus on January, they pay the contribution of 1,830 of the 1,840 students (99.5%).

The rest of the Spanish public universities, all of them consulted, have not provided data or do not provide what was requested. Many of them remember that the figures are not consolidated because the settlement of contributions will not take place until March 31. That is, at the moment no university has paid for these contributions. But it is possible to know a forecast at least with respect to January (as several of them detail) because it is established whether the company or the university will pay.

Problems to solve

The CRUE has been very critical of the Ministry of Social Security for how it has implemented this policy. “Anything that benefits the student body seems fine to us, but they have to make administrative management easier for us. We have made an enormous effort to instill tranquility, but we found a disorganization that has generated alarm. What's more, there are companies that no longer want students even if we pay the contribution,” indicated the rector of the University of Huelva earlier this week. On Monday, the board of rectors even sent a very critical statement due to the “lack of clarity” in several technical aspects of the standard. Since then they have held two meetings with the ministry that have improved the interpretation of the academic group. “The statement has had effect. They have resolved many of the doubts we had and are committed to detailing them in writing. We trust in better communication,” Peña explained to this newspaper this Friday.

Social Security sources, also at the beginning of the week, were surprised by the “virulence” of this statement and reaffirmed their willingness to resolve all doubts that may arise with as many meetings as necessary. They insist that collaboration has been “total” through the provincial directorates and that a specific section will be created on the Social Security website where the information can be centralized, offer a glossary of questions and answers and application criteria, as well as a specific group of workers dedicated to this matter. The ministry describes the latest meetings as “very fruitful.”

It should be noted that the cost for universities is not very high, given the very high bonus. For example, Pompeu Fabra states that it expects the contributions for unpaid internships to cost around 22,000 euros throughout 2024, the University of La Rioja estimates around 30,000 and the Public University of Navarra, around 60,000. For the month of January alone, the university with the most students (Complutense) estimates a cost of 18,113 euros. “That cost is there and in principle the universities should not have assumed it, but it is not as important as the administrative workload that this measure implies. That is the main problem,” adds Peña, who anticipates a possible contraction of internships next year if the problems are not resolved.

“Companies must assume their part”

The unions, like employers, supported the Social Security initiative regarding unpaid internships. The youth manager of UGT, Eduardo Magaldi, is not particularly concerned that public institutions do not pay: “It is a matter of correctly allocating the budget, it is public money or the universities or the institution that employs the student. If the universities assume it, it will have to be taken into account in their funds.” He is more concerned about companies' refusal to pay these very low costs: “I think we are in a transitional phase until companies understand that they must assume this. But now if you can save 10 euros, you save it. They should not have that option, companies must assume their part.” This union member remembers that the CEOE was in favor of the measure: “They mentioned that an organization that would not bear such a low value maybe shouldn’t host interns.”

The consultant of CC OO, Adrià Junyent, agrees: “There is not enough time to analyze the official data, but we are confirming the lack of commitment of the entire university system and companies with youth.” This union member additionally opens a debate that has been hovering over this dialogue for months: “Perhaps we should sit down and talk without blackmail about the possibility that we have oversized the internship system. When there are complaints that there will not be internships for everyone if they are linked to a few labor rights, what is said is that our economy cannot take on so many interns if it does not exploit them. We are a country of SMEs, we are not Germany. Maybe we have to take a look.”

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