Internships and unemployment go hand in hand

“I won’t grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me. ” – Peter Pan

The Office for National Statistics has published a set of rather dismal figures, which show that 1.02 million young people are without work. Shockingly, this means that one in five 16-24 year olds are unemployed; an all time high since the mid 1980s.

Is today’s youth a lost generation destined to be forever young?

Alicia Tamworth told ExploitedInterns that it is a topic that’s always on her mind. “Every time I turn on the TV, the Eurozone crisis seems to be even worse, which makes me worry about my own future. I dream of the things I once found boring; the security of a job, a mortgage and enough money to eventually start a family.”

Mervyn King, the Governor of The Bank of England said that the road to recovery will be “long and ardous” and warns that the country’s economy could stagnate until the middle of 2012. This forecast means that the country’s job market will be no brighter next year.

So what does this mean for interns?

As companies battle with the financial crisis, employers view interns as a cost-effective alternative to paid employees. With a stagnant job market, graduates are forced to rely on unpaid internships, in the hope that it will be a stepping-stone to a full-paid job.

Alicia said: “the recession doesn’t give an employee the right or excuse not to pay interns. It might be saving them money, but how do they expect us to survive?”

But getting an internship has never been more valuable. As the competition for jobs intensifies, the more work experience you have, the better. A spokesperson for Milkround told us: “in the last few years the number of applications per graduate job has doubled to 70 for each place.”

He added that graduates are facing a greater challenge.“ As they find it increasingly difficult to find jobs, they roll onto the following year’s intake, where they have to compete with a fresh supply of university-leavers. Internships are therefore extremely beneficial as they provide skills that you don’t get at university.”

As the UK’s economic prospects are even worse than expected, graduates and interns find themselves in a very vulnerable position. The country’s economic situation helps to create an ideal landscape where interns are exploited by money-saving companies.

ExploitedInterns wants to hear your stories. How many internships have you had since you graduated and do you feel hopeful about your job prospects? Tell us your thoughts below. 

One Response to “Internships and unemployment go hand in hand”
  1. Tom says:

    I’m a university student and like Alicia I am not optimistic about my prospects. The unpaid internships situation is already a big problem. Many friends who have graduated in the last couple of years have spent months working for free, often with no paid job at the end of it, or at best a minimum wage position, which is completely unsustainable in London. I can’t afford to work for free after I graduate and yet the economic situation looks likely to continue to deteriorate into next year.

    But rather than trying to put a stop to unpaid internships, I think the government is likely to see them as quite a good fit with its policies of reducing welfare protection and employment rights as a response to the economic crisis.

    I think we need to see the problem of unpaid internships in this context, and campaign for decent wages for interns alongside other groups being made to suffer the consequences of an economic crisis we did not create.

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