From the TUC

One good intern deserves another?

26 Mar 2010, by in Labour market, Working Life

Friday fun for you in the form of a little ditty (with a serious point, natch) about exploitatative internships. It’s part of a new TUC campaign looking into improving the lot of the UK’s interns: rights for interns.

The number and range of internships in the UK has increased considerably in recent years, particularly so during the recession, and interns are now a regular feature in many industries. We’re worried that as many as one in three of these interns (as we found when studying 6,000 internships advertised on the Government’s Graduate Talent Pool website) is not being paid for their work, even though they legally qualify for the minimum wage.

Good internships are attractive to young people looking to get on in a competitive jobs market, helping them gain the kind of work experience that employers value so highly. However, a lot of employers seem to be taking advantage of graduates’ desperation to find work in the current climate, and viewing internships as a way to tap into a source of free labour. Of course, others may just be unaware that non-payment of most types of intern is actually a breach of minimum wage rules.

One very worrying conclusion here is that as the use of internships becomes more widespread, many popular career destinations like journalism, advertising, film, television and public relations are becoming an exclusive domain for young people from more affluent backgrounds, whose parents have the means to support them whilst the work for free – often for months on end.

If this trend towards more and more entry level jobs being replaced by unpaid internships, it will really distort the graduate job market, and wreck the career prospects of many of our young people.

One Response to One good intern deserves another?

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