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Is it good to ban unpaid internships? Watch

    • TSR Group Staff
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    I saw this news article this morning about how unpaid internships may finally be on the way out after a report from MPs and peers that unpaid internships are a barrier to social mobility:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38639890

    On the one hand I think this is a great idea, as internships should in theory become a much more available option since it would provide applicants with the means of being self-sufficient as they work towards a potential career pathway. Internships will no longer only be available for those who can afford to work unpaid because of their (or their parents') higher socioeconomic status.

    On the other hand though, if companies are obliged to pay all interns, this may in turn discourage companies from employing interns in the future which would end up making things harder for students to attain some real-world experience.

    What do you guys think of this? Internships provide a great advantage in giving interns a 'foot in the door' with a business and potential career but is this outweighed by the fact that many are currently still unpaid?
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    Good thing.

    Unpaid internships clearly favour those from wealthier backgrounds who can afford to complete a two-three month placement for no money because they have backing from home.

    There is a difference between an internship and a weeks work experience. All internships should be paid.
    • TSR Group Staff
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    I agree. Given the scope of duties responsibilities that many interns have, it seems a gross injustice that they receive no money for their efforts. It's pretty baffling that it's taken this long for a ban to be called.
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    Yes, it doesn't just give an advantage to the already over-privledged middle classes, but people working for a private companies should get paid for their labour.
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    Although the paid internship route would be brilliant because more students would be able to do it,
    for example when I was University, I spent my holidays working full time jobs in order to survive the next year, as I got next to no support during my undergrad, whereas my wealthier course mates could do it, because they didn't have to worry about money trouble.

    I think more companies would cancel them, and the competition would be so high - which leads to wealthier families with connections to the industry more likely to gain the placement anyway.

    I went for an interview for an internship about a month ago, it was paid. i got rejected on the basis of not having enough experience after getting to the second round of interviews. Although internships are supposed to be the way of GETTING EXPERIENCE, and I already had a few months in the industry previously in a full time paid position. I only applied for the internship on the basis of refreshing my skills and being in a role which was fundamentally for learning. I realised this 'internship' was more a probational role, as they wanted to hire someone and test them out a few months, rather than a 'training role' per say, which sort of starts to steer internships away from their primary use of being opportunities for grads to gain work experience.
    But in reality if a company is going to spend money on you, they atleast want to be getting something out of it.

    What I would like to see personally, is internships with more flexible working hours rather than paid. (although paid would be nice, everyone likes getting paid) Instead of 9-5 over two-three months, maybe 9-5 three days a week over 6-12 months. That why people in financially straining situations could still hold down a part time job whilst doing a few days with a company. The amount of unpaid internships which offer 5 days a week full working hours does not really leave much room for anyone to make up the money, because let's face it - a weekend bar job won't exactly pay the bills each month.
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    Agree with the above, but, devil's advocate, even making them minimum wage will mean people still having to rely on help (from Bank of mum and dad) to afford to work them.

    And making them paid will mean most companies will likely stop offering them.

    Instead of them being paid/unpaid perhaps there's an option to require them to have a form of scholarship behind them. So that the companies offering them have to pay, for example, a percentage of your housing or travel costs...?
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    (Original post by Drewski)
    Agree with the above, but, devil's advocate, even making them minimum wage will mean people still having to rely on help (from Bank of mum and dad) to afford to work them.

    And making them paid will mean most companies will likely stop offering them.

    Instead of them being paid/unpaid perhaps there's an option to require them to have a form of scholarship behind them. So that the companies offering them have to pay, for example, a percentage of your housing or travel costs...?
    I think some do this anyway, provide you with lunch and pay for your bus/train each day. Housing would be a good option too. However, I still can't imagine companies would want to splash out accommodation costs for candidates they aren't keeping for the long run - which is why most don't pay.
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    Good thing. If you are doing a job with set hours during which you are expected to be there, even if it is literally just making tea for people and doing a bit of photocopying, then you should be paid at least minimum wage.

    'Experience' is just a ******** term for certain fields like journalism and other creative Industries to rip young and naive people off.
    • TSR Group Staff
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    (Original post by mcgreevy1993)
    Although the paid internship route would be brilliant because more students would be able to do it,
    for example when I was University, I spent my holidays working full time jobs in order to survive the next year, as I got next to no support during my undergrad, whereas my wealthier course mates could do it, because they didn't have to worry about money trouble.

    I think more companies would cancel them, and the competition would be so high - which leads to wealthier families with connections to the industry more likely to gain the placement anyway.

    I went for an interview for an internship about a month ago, it was paid. i got rejected on the basis of not having enough experience after getting to the second round of interviews. Although internships are supposed to be the way of GETTING EXPERIENCE, and I already had a few months in the industry previously in a full time paid position. I only applied for the internship on the basis of refreshing my skills and being in a role which was fundamentally for learning. I realised this 'internship' was more a probational role, as they wanted to hire someone and test them out a few months, rather than a 'training role' per say, which sort of starts to steer internships away from their primary use of being opportunities for grads to gain work experience.
    But in reality if a company is going to spend money on you, they atleast want to be getting something out of it.

    What I would like to see personally, is internships with more flexible working hours rather than paid. (although paid would be nice, everyone likes getting paid) Instead of 9-5 over two-three months, maybe 9-5 three days a week over 6-12 months. That why people in financially straining situations could still hold down a part time job whilst doing a few days with a company. The amount of unpaid internships which offer 5 days a week full working hours does not really leave much room for anyone to make up the money, because let's face it - a weekend bar job won't exactly pay the bills each month.
    That was my concern- that more companies will cancel them and things would be that much harder non-wealthy people to get on a good career ladder. I agree with everything you've said. It seems like a real paradox of needing proper experience in order to start getting proper experience. The idea of more flexible internships is a fantastic idea that should be more widespread if unpaid internships continue to persist.
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    (Original post by Amusing Elk)
    That was my concern- that more companies will cancel them and things would be that much harder non-wealthy people to get on a good career ladder. I agree with everything you've said. It seems like a real paradox of needing proper experience in order to start getting proper experience. The idea of more flexible internships is a fantastic idea that should be more widespread if unpaid internships continue to persist.
    I think companies need to recognise that not all people are funded by mum and dad and some people who could bring valuable skills to the the industry are not willing to sacrifice their livelihood 5 days a week to go and work unpaid.

    Even if its the job they don't want to be in, their current employers are a lot more likely to honour them going part time to secure a work placement elsewhere, than take 3 months leave. Because that's the big issue too - many internships will come out of their internship unemployed, without any source of income for the months they've been doing it.. Altleast this way they have the safety net of their part-time job and some form of income if they end up not being selected in the hiring process at the end of it.

    Obviously being paid would be brilliant as I said before, but it's not really asking much for more flexible working hours. I know personally companies I've liaised with during my undergrad for work experience have been a lot more flexible to working hours when I've come on a placement, than the internships I've seen advertised. I'd be getting the same experience as the intern, but because they've seen me personally and I've explained my situation, they seem to be a lot more accommodating, so there is room for this is adjustment across the board really.
    • TSR Group Staff
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    Having them paid is a step in the right direction, although I don't see how it's going to be enforced. Unless they literally ban all volunteer work, at what point do they cut off and say "this person is an employee" versus "this person is just helping out"? Plenty of companies in the private domain have volunteers working for them, including TSR as a matter of fact.

    Also since there's no protected characteristic for being poor, this doesn't stop selective hiring processes based off a person's background. Companies are free to hand out internships to wealthy kids and nobody else, paid or not.
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    I would say it isn't good because I have gained a lot of experience through unpaid internships.

    But I can see how it isn't fair on others since they were all gained through family connections and bankrolled by my father.
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    (Original post by Dez)
    Having them paid is a step in the right direction, although I don't see how it's going to be enforced. Unless they literally ban all volunteer work, at what point do they cut off and say "this person is an employee" versus "this person is just helping out"? Plenty of companies in the private domain have volunteers working for them, including TSR as a matter of fact.

    Also since there's no protected characteristic for being poor, this doesn't stop selective hiring processes based off a person's background. Companies are free to hand out internships to wealthy kids and nobody else, paid or not.
    I think there needs to be a more official distinction between an internship and other voluntary work. I think that if the level of duty and responsibility is above a certain threshold, then it should have to achieve "Internship status" and workers can no longer be unpaid. Obviously it's hard to measure precisely the level of duty and responsibility of a given role and many companies could then try and cut corners so this kind of thing is probably a lot easier said than implemented.
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    I would never take an unpaid internship anyway. Even though you're primarily there to learn, if in the process what you're doing isn't providing the company you're at with some value, then what you're learning is worthless. If it is providing them something of value, then you deserve paying for it even if you are gaining knowledge and experience as well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35X8lGxGPI
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    The left would prefer that nobody gains experience, just so long as everyone gets an equally low level of experience. How does that improve anything?

    This poisonous, jealous mindset is what destroys the future productivity and competitiveness of Britain. Thank God this policy is unimplementable.
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    It should be means tested - i.e. they offer an incrementally lower amount of payment depending on how high your parental income is. This balances out the costs for businesses with access for less fortunate individuals.
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    It's pretty clear to me - companies that currently offer unpaid, will mostly stop offering them at all.

    If you've been offering internships for a while, and you aren't a massive organisation, but you've gone through the selection and admin process, the whole thing is costing you before they've even turned up on the first day. And if none of them turn out to be any good - why would you want to pay them on top of all that?

    Food and travel is enough, as long as the programme is a proper one. If they want to pay, great.
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    Experience is a complete non term. Yes, some jobs require experience, like being an electrical engineer for the navy, an army officer, the prime minister. Working at poundland? Yeah you need 10 minutes and common sense.

    Unpaid internships and volunteer work are pretty bad, they favour those who can afford to take the time off without getting any money (those not living hand to mouth) thus keeping the poor and down trodden where they are considered to belong. As for volunteer work, how often is it actually volunteering? Most of the time it's just free labour to put on a CV, aka unpaid work.
    • PS Reviewer
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    Personally I am in favour of this ban, I've seen so many adverts for unpaid internships (generally in highly competitive fields like journalism, media, fashion, etc. where in fact interns can often just get stuck in with real work and contribute pretty quickly, not like highly technical jobs in engineering or something) - and often they are full time roles for several months, highly competitive to get and not very flexible. Some don't even pay transport costs.

    I always get annoyed when I see my uni careers department forwarding on adverts like these, yes there are some bursaries available from the uni to help with basic living costs but it still is nothing compared to the earning from a shop/ bar job you could otherwise get living at home.

    Regarding the whole volunteering vs interning debate, I think that if a company is for-profit, you're an intern, but not-for-profits and charities should have permission to take on unpaid volunteers (who are doing the job out of commitment to a cause, rather than seeking experience as such). That being said, I would expect even unpaid volunteers to be given a small amount towards essentials like transport costs - bus and train fares are going through the roof...

    This all being said, for short-term work experience placements (say, two weeks or shorter - where the student is mostly job shadowing etc. rather than really contributing) then I can understand a company not really needing to pay.

    The whole thing about unpaid internships now being required to get any experience for even "entry-level" job applications is being fuelled by the wide availability of such unpaid internships. If no-one was allowed to offer unpaid internships, then no job applicants would have much experience when applying to entry-level jobs/ paid internships, so there isn't an issue with you not having enough experience as everyone is on a level playing field. Internships and entry-level jobs should have NO previous experience required, instead looking for your interest in the industry/ relevant skills to be demonstrated through things like uni societies, short work experience/ shadowing placements, insight days, etc.
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    Instinctively I'm not in favour of this ban.

    As a general rule I think that when it comes to a trade or agreement between two parties, they should both negotiate an agreement that works for them, rather than there being outside intervention. If I genuinely want to become a slave, even if it's an unusual thing to desire, that's up to me. We don't need laws purely to protect ourselves from our own informed choices.

    In the case of internships, sometimes I think it makes perfect sense for them to be unpaid, particularly if the intern is not generating any revenue for the company but if they're just there to learn. That said, it may be in a company's own interests to make it a paid internship anyway in order to encourage applicants from poorer backgrounds who can't necessarily afford the time to do an unpaid internship alongside whatever they might need to do for money, thereby unlocking a larger pool of talent for recruitment opportunities.

    But I think it should be left to individuals and companies to decide what is appropriate for them.
 
 
 
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