Funded by the European Commission, the Digital Opportunity Traineeships is an initiative that acts as a bridge between students and digital talents on one side, and companies and prospective employers on the other. The EU initiative provides an opportunity for students to get first-hand, direct experience in technological fields such as cybersecurity, machine learning, big data and others. Participants can also opt to enrol in placements with a focus on web design and development or software to enhance their digital skills in a business context.
The Digital Opportunity Traineeships was launched in 2018 under the umbrella of Erasmus+ and received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 programme. The initiative aims to tackle the high levels of youth unemployment by bridging the skills gap between the workforce and recruiters, and connecting students to prospective employers abroad. At the same time, the initiative also supports business and SMEs, who often experience time and resource constraints and struggle to find digitally competent employees. The goal of the Digital Opportunity Traineeships is to inspire students and graduate from all disciplines, not just the ones with a technology focus, to embark on traineeships in order to strengthen their digital competences, increase their employability prospects and provide them with an opportunity to gain valuable experience abroad. The traineeships can also be combined with a study period abroad and can last anytime from 2 to 12 months. For more intensive subjects such as architecture or medicine, traineeships may be extended to 24 months.
To be eligible for the Digital Opportunity Traineeships, you must be a recent graduate, based in one of the Erasmus+ Programme Countries, or a student, participating in higher education mobility activities in one of the following countries (hyperlink same as previous). More information and eligibility considerations can be found through local participating universities. Trainees receive financial support, averaging around €500 per month, with the exact amount depending on the country of residence. Grants are generally managed through the individual universities and do not require funding on the side of businesses (companies have the option of topping up the grants).
The Digital Opportunity Traineeships initiative is a good practice not only in terms of its success in fostering the development of advanced digital skills, but also in relation to its strong link with facilitating employment prospects. It has a wide outreach: the platform offers a way for students to locate relevant traineeships abroad, not only limited to a specific emerging technologies, but also to related ICT areas like digital marketing or general IT skills. As of January 2021, the platform collates more than 180 opportunities throughout Europe, both online and face-to-face. The programme has also succeeded in building a strong base of relevant and active stakeholders from more than 30 countries. The Digital Opportunity Traineeships is a scalable initiative in the context of the target group of students, and offers an easy-to-search and navigate database.