UNPAID INTERNSHIPS-WHAT IS GOVERNMENT POLICY?

UNPAID INTERNSHIPS

Graduates ripe for exploitation

So what’s government policy?

It is a fact of life now that many jobseekers, particularly graduates, are asked by potential   employers how many internships they have done in job interviews and details  are now  included in CVs. They are expected to have done two or three internships before applying for a permanent job.  Internships typically last  from one week to up to six months. Most internships are unpaid and frequently interns are not even given their expenses or travel costs by the host company or charity. The net result is that many are exploited and feel used. It’s a given that this area needs greater scrutiny and offending companies should be named and shamed. So, what  is the government’s policy on this?

This is David Willetts’ answer to a PQ on internships-7 February- ‘ We want to make as many opportunities as possible available to talented young people from all backgrounds. It is important we do not close down potentially valuable options, for example where the intern is acting as a volunteer. For this reason we do not rule out unpaid internships but ask businesses to offer internships openly and transparently and provide financial support to ensure fair access. We have recently updated guidance on Business Link and Directgov to provide more clarity on internships and to remind employers of their legal responsibilities, including that those who are entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW) should receive it. The Graduate Talent Pool website, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also directs employers to this guidance and along with the vacancy quality assurance process, ensures that no employer is left in any doubt about his or her obligation to comply with national minimum wage legislation.’

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