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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Almost half of student internships are still unpaid


Almost half of student internships are unpaid, a survey by Graduate Prospects has revealed.

A survey published in the organisation’s annual report entitled ‘Real Prospects: Higher Education’ explored whether 22,000 graduates had gained work experience while studying for their undergraduate degree. More than 70% said they had done so, often by taking on casual paid work.

Others engaged in unpaid voluntary work or secured an internship. Of the internships undertaken by graduates, 43% were not paid.

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.”

But he had recently been involved in creating the first code of best practice for high quality internships, which was endorsed by the government and “clearly states that companies offering a placement of six weeks or more should pay the national minimum wage to an intern if they are contributing to a company, have a list of duties and are working set hours”, he added.

In July this year, the government published a best practice code for high-quality internships. The guidelines, developed by the Gateways to the Professions collaborative forum, set out six principles for employer best practice in relation to internships, which included preparation, recruitment and induction activity.

The study also revealed that, while graduates recognised the value of work experience – intimating that it gave them an opportunity to try out jobs, develop skills and build confidence – many felt that employers and universities could do more to promote and organise internships.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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