Inspiring Interns welcomes push for fair internships

Graduate Talent Pool - help or hindrance?
Graduate Talent Pool - help or hindrance?

On Sunday evening Donal MacIntyre presented an investigation into unpaid internships in the UK on his Radio 5 Live show. The report highlighted the fact that some companies are using the government website Graduate Talent Pool to advertise unpaid internships that potentially break National Minimum Wage laws.

Inspiring Interns shares the concerns raised on the programme and, further, welcomes any move to draw attention to the exploitation of graduates by businesses using unemployed young people as free labour. As a company we go to great lengths to ensure that our placements offer the kind of professional experience that graduates require in today’s oversaturated job market; moreover we only work with clients interested in developing young talent, not taking advantage of it.

The other main issue that the programme raised was how expenses-only internships are deepening the class divide, with only the wealthy able to undertake longer periods of work experience on low remuneration.

Inspiring Interns agree entirely that internships should be open for all, and back the government’s current schemes to support those who might not otherwise be able to afford internships. We were also delighted to hear David Lammy MP announce on Donal MacIntyre’s show that a new initiative will launch in the summer to offer means-tested support for graduates who undertake placements. Inspiring Interns believe that by offering government financial incentives, graduates will be inspired to test the water by gaining valuable experience in their chosen fields. They also have the opportunity to work in areas which they may not have previously considered. By participating in short term internships in a variety of industries or sectors graduates can make a more informed choice when planning their career path.

Inspiring Interns would also like to express support for businesses offering genuine internships, and urge the government to avoid over-the-top intervention that could damage a very beneficial system. There must be official recognition that in the current economic climate some companies simply cannot afford to pay interns and do not have long term openings. However, by offering a placement they do provide essential experience for graduates and potentially create permanent jobs; either when the market picks up or, more exceptionally, where the intern performs so well that the company perceives there to be a business case with low risk to take the intern on full time.

Banning unpaid internships would do more damage than good, both to young people and to the economy. Therefore the government needs to clarify legislation on internships, and follow the recommendations outlined in Alan Milburn’s report on social mobility. For as Mr. Milburn argues, “Internships are an essential part of the career ladder [and] part and parcel of a modern, flexible economy.”  At Inspiring Interns we aim to provide a valuable service both to graduates entering the job market for the first time and to industry. We provide choice, experience and hopefully long term career paths for our interns, whilst at the same time offering a commercial, low cost low risk business solution for.
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