Businesses Should Encourage More Paid Internships

Competition for graduate jobs is greater than ever and there is increasing pressure to undertake unpaid internships to enhance your CV. However, this isn’t always a viable option for those who can’t afford to work full time for free. That means it’s likely that employers are missing out on a large proportion of graduates who will be forced to find alternative paid work rather than work for them. Equally, graduates are missing out on opportunities to gain valuable experience. However, some companies such Fountain Partnership, a Norwich SEO agency, are bucking the trend by offering paid internships to students at the University of East Anglia.

Managing Director of Fountain, Rebecca Lewis-Smith, says, “Offering paid work rather than unpaid internships is the way to go. We value the work the students do for us – they are skilled writers and bring a fresh and innovative approach to the projects that our internal team work on every day.”

Lewis-Smith is not alone in believing unpaid internships are detrimental to students. Young people today need to regularly boost their CV’s to compete. Recent graduates in particular suffer the most. Having come on to the jobs market with a large amount of debt many can’t afford to work full time for free. The majority of internships are based in London, which has some of the highest rent and living costs in the UK. This excludes many graduates and reduces the chance to work in the capital to those who have the means to live there.

Campaigns such as Intern Aware and Graduate Fog have been established to raise awareness not only on the unfairness of unpaid internships, but also the illegality of them. Under UK law any intern who is doing work that would otherwise be carried out by a paid member of staff should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. Intern Aware have helped several unpaid interns challenge their employers and claim back wages, while Graduate Fog offers careers advice, as well as listing only paid graduate jobs.

Some of the biggest online recruitment companies have pledged not to list positions that are unpaid, including Monster, Milkround and Totaljobs. Awareness is rising but there has been little movement by Government to take action. Earlier this year Nick Clegg was criticized for refusing to ban the advertising of such positions, and the Government backed Graduate Talent Pool still lists internships that are unpaid. Until the Government takes measures to combat these placements, graduates will continue to be exploited for their talent.

In the long term, it discourages a healthy employment market, instead encouraging employees to borrow money and work their way further into debt, and employers to rely on cheap labour. And the detrimental effects go wider, affecting the economy and society as future generations struggle with low or no pay and can’t afford a basic lifestyle.

This is why unpaid internships should be abandoned if we’re to have a fairer job market and meritocratic society where skills, talent and effort are rewarded so that everyone may benefit.



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Wednesday, 24 July 2019
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