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Graduates: National Trainees

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In addition to the ESA Young Graduate Trainee programme, there are several national trainee programmes through which you can increase your chances of becoming a trainee at ESA. You may apply to both programmes separately. Please note, that if you have already benefited from one programme, you may not subsequently participate in another. National trainee programmes have been set up for Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece and Spain through bilateral agreements between ESA and the following entities:

  • Belgium: Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) (more info in French or Dutch)
  • Estonia: Enterprise Estonia (more info)
  • Germany: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) (more info)
  • Ireland: Irish Research Council (more info)
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg Space Agency (more info)
  • Portugal: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (more info)
  • Switzerland: Swiss Space Center (more info)

Currently inactive programmes:

  • Greece: Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY, Ίδρυμα Κρατικών Υποτροφιών) (more info)
  • Spain: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación

These programmes offer recent university graduates the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience at ESA in a variety of space-related disciplines. Traineeships are offered in such fields as space science, Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation, mission control and human spaceflight.

Selected candidates receive on-the-job training under the supervision and guidance of a tutor at one of the ESA Establishments. Traineeships last for 12 months and can be extended for up to 12 more. Recruitment procedure for National Trainee Programmes The annual recruitment procedure is run by the national agencies and ESA's Human Resources Department. The steps are as follows:

  • The national agencies issue calls for applications. At the same time they let ESA know which technical and scientific areas they would like to see their trainees placed in.
  • The Human Resources Department contacts the relevant departments and divisions to request training opportunities that are in line with the requests from the national agencies.
  • The resulting training opportunities are sent to the national agencies, who publish them to help applicants target their applications to their area or areas of interest.
  • The national agencies select the candidates and provisionally assign training opportunities to them.
  • Human Resources sends the CV of each pre-selected candidate to the hosting department or division, which makes sure that the candidate's profile is suitable for the traineeship. This process may include contacting the candidate to request additional information.
  • Once the list of successful candidates from each participating Member State has been finalised, Human Resources and the national agency in question arrange a meeting in each country with the candidates, at which their appointments are confirmed.


Each trainee is assigned a tutor, who helps him or her adjust to the new environment, provides guidance and supports his or her integration into the team in question with a view to ensuring a suitable learning environment.


The status of national trainees is similar to that of Young Graduate Trainees. A key difference is that national trainees are not staff members.


The national entities cover all costs related to the traineeship and the required health insurance, and are responsible for issuing traineeship contracts. However, all trainees must follow ESA Rules, Regulations and Instructions.