Friday, 4 November 2011

Guardian wants stories

The Guardian has just posted a request for stories about unpaid internships and the like. "Private companies contracted by the government to get the long term unemployed back into work are getting people to work for highly profitable supermarkets for weeks or face having their dole docked. The Department of Work and Pensions has also confirmed that government run job centres are recommending that unemployed youth take up long term 'work experience' to help them gain further skills. This work can also be unpaid." There's some confusion here, I think, between internships and the "work activity" which has been part of New Deal and its successors for a long time. But they want stories, so perhaps some of my regular readers would like to respond.


  1. Businesslink, a very good Government website, clarifies matters here.

    I find it immoral that large profitable supermarkets and the like should take on free labour and it should be made illegal in my opinion.

  2. I've never been entirely against work experience. Done properly, it can give people who haven't worked for some years the chance to get back into a work environment and prove themselves. And in the old New Deal it went alongside real skills training. Some companies (Morrisons is one) take on people on work placements and offer some of them jobs. But there's always the risk that it becomes a source of free labour.

    1. "And in the old New Deal it went alongside real skills training."

      Oh really? That has never been my experience! There was NO skills training whatsoever available on New Deal. Most people were sent to stand around doing nothing in a charity shop, and my so-called 'work placement' was at a community centre where there was absolutely nothing for me to do apart from surf the net and drink tea all day long! A complete and utter waste of time.

    2. Which New Deal are you talking about? I'm referring to the programme which existed up to privatisation in 2006. People did NVQs or above for anything from 2 weeks to 52 weeks, in genuine work placements 4 days a week and studying on the 5th.

  3. It obviously depends on the "job" I have been looking quite extensively free/inexpensive events in London to attend. In the process I see there are requests for volunteers within arts organistions which if you are into The Arts, strikes me as a great area to become involved in, and a good steeping stone to employment

    A few months ago I remember forwarding an advert to you Historian, where the advertiser was offering a work placement but applicants were expected to pay some ludicrous amount for their training!

  4. An organisation I belong to, a charity, drew attention on its Facebook page to the fact that it was advertising for interns. I think they were surprised at the torrent of criticism this attracted, from members and sympathisers. Somebody with legal knowledge then pointed out that if they were requiring people to do specific work and hours they should call them volunteers rather than interns, who were entitled to minimum wage.

  5. My perception of the majority of interns, rightly or wrongly, is that they are university graduates from wealthy families, doing unpaid work experience in the media, advertising and politics.

  6. "and an individual's entitlement to the national minimum wage (NMW) will depend on whether the work experience offered makes the individual a worker for NMW purposes."

    (from the above link)

    This reads as one of the most odious sentences i've ever seen.

    I've no problem if someone wants to do unpaid experience. But this shouldn't then be used to beat others over the head with as a baseline to which everyone out of work must accept.


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