The proposed training wage – the way forward for interns?

throw-money-765885There have been whispers in the media about the introduction of a training wage for all interns, proposed by the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). The £2.50-per-hour minimum wage would align interns with apprentices who will be entitled to this sum come October, with other increases to the national minimum wage happening at the same time. It seems like a interesting proposal – all interns will legally be entitled to a nice pay packet in their pockets, no longer walking home empty handed with only vague dreams of earning money. Like me, you may already be envisaging rolling around (somewhat uncomfortably) in a pile of crisp £50 notes, casually throwing wads of cash around the room. Sadly, however, this may be a slightly overenthusiastic reaction to the new proposal.

In reality, a growing number of internships are based in Central London, which on the surface sounds rather glamorous for the humble student or graduate, but in actual fact amounts to a laborious and costly journey, as well as an overpriced sandwich for lunch and a meagre window-browse of the shops after work. I asked a friend of mine who has recently graduated from the University of Manchester about her internship and the amount she has to pay to get to work every day. It turns out it costs Rebecca over £100 per week travel-wise, which includes catching a National Rail train, followed by two changes on the Tube. And then there’s her lunch on top of that. Fortunately for Rebecca, her travel and lunch expenses are subsidised by the company at which she is interning, so there is never a risk of her losing money. The training wage, however, would fail to cover her costs, causing her to be significantly out of pocket. Of course this does not happen with everyone; for many the proposed wage would give interns a modest amount of spending money, and according to Jenny Lee, a recent graduate doing an internship in London, “it feels better to actually be earning something, rather than striking even without a faint whiff of cash coming my way”.

Is it worth it though? Should interns be legally entitled to a training wage, or do you think travel and lunch expenses suffice? We want to hear your thoughts and comments, let the debate rage on!