No change for student interns

Despite a government-backed code of best practice and a general uproar in the press about the prevalence of unpaid internships, latest figures show that almost half of internships are still unpaid.

A survey of 22,000 UK graduates by graduate careers agency Graduate Prospects found that of those who undertook internships during their studies, 43% were not paid for their time.

Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects, said: 'Despite the hype around unpaid work experience placements over the last few years, we can see from the study that a huge proportion of interns still have to work for free.'

Becky Heath, chief executive of Internocracy, an interns' rights organisation, said the report shows how 'the erosive culture of unpaid internships is affecting students as well as those who have graduated and are looking for work,' adding: 'Although many employers are very conscientious about taking on young people, in many instances students are required to get work experience and this is exploited by unscrupulous employers.

'It's a trend which will only continue to grow as support for young people is stripped away. With the scrapping of the future jobs fund, many students and graduates are forced to do placement after placement of unpaid work, all for the hope of a decent job.'

The TUC earlier this year advised that firms offering more than six weeks' work experience should pay interns the minimum wage, if they are working set hours and have a list of duties.

The survey also showed that a third of interns secured their placement through friends and family, about the same as those who found their internship through a university careers' service. Proving that nepotism is by and large the order of the day.

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