Interns should be paid £2.50 an hour training wage

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is today calling on the Government to introduce a £2.50 an hour training wage for internships lasting for three months or longer.

The Government was urged by the CIPD to introduce legislation to create a formal training wage for interns to prevent exploitation. The idea is part of a number of measures suggested by the CIPD aimed at boosting the UKs economic recovery.  The proposed training wage of £2.50 an hour, which is the current minimum rate of pay for apprentices, would be introduced to cover all interns regardless of their occupation or industry sector.

Internships are swiftly becoming a prevalent feature on the road to employment, useful for both interns and for employers. However, for many potential interns the largest obstacle to undertaking a placement is financial restrictions.  In a previous CIPD report published in June last year research showed that more than a third (37%) of internships were unpaid. The result of this, critics argue, is that young people from well-off backgrounds or with good connections enjoy an unfair advantage in the job market. The CIPD believes that the training wage would help reflect the contribution an intern makes to an organisation, as well encouraging people from poorer backgrounds to apply. In the same way that university education has been opened up to people from a variety of backgrounds, so should internships.

The issue of National Minimum Wage (NMW) in internships also continues to be something of a legal grey area; as the CIPD notes the central issue of whether they should be paid remains unresolved. By creating a formal training wage for those on extended work placements, the Government will go a long way towards eliminating the marked discrepancies in internship remuneration across different sectors and companies, and create a clear framework for employers.

The CIPDs recommendation comes as part of their wider vision for the future. Their chief economic adviser, John Philpott, is calling for a step-change in the UK’s leadership and people management skills in order for country to keep up with its international competitors.

He says: The government wants to foster a strong, private sector-led, economic recovery, but we have yet to see a coherent strategy for economic growth to sit alongside the chancellor’s very clear-cut approach to reducing the fiscal deficit.

The coalition needs to show greater urgency in implementing measures to help boost the long-run supply side capacity of the UK economy, which must include efforts to boost productivity by improving the way in which businesses manage the people they employ.

Inspiring Interns fully supports the CIPDs proposal, as it strikes a fair balance for someone who is predominantly learning, but also making some contribution to their company. At Inspiring we believe internships are not just a source of practical insight but an essential part of the career ladder. The main purpose of an internship is to provide students and graduates with meaningful experience that enhances their employability and skills, however without financial support many potential interns cannot afford to undertake an internship. Companies are therefore missing out on the wealth of talent that interns possess.  The training wage represents an appropriate level payment for both young people and businesses.

At Inspiring Interns we not only offer quality work experience, but all of our internships also pay lunch and travel as a minimum, a sum which amounts to at least £2.50 an hour. We call on the Government to act on the CIPDs recommendations, many of which overlap with our own manifesto, and create legislation that will ensure fair remuneration and better quality experience for interns.