Internships are becoming essential for access to many professions. Because a high number are unpaid and unaffordable to those from ordinary backgrounds, too many young people are being excluded from the opportunities that they deserve.
Working for free doesn’t come cheap. Unpaid internships are overwhelmingly based in London, where the cost of living is amongst the highest in the UK. The Evening Standard recently found that the average rent in the city was poised to break the £1000 per month barrier. Internships vary in length, but almost all last three months or longer. Three months working for free could cost an intern over £3000. That’s money that most simply don’t have.
This means that too many young people are locked out of the opportunities they deserve by unpaid internships. While those who can afford to live for free are able to gain experience and get a foot on the career ladder- the vast majority are left behind. It is simply unfair. Young people who have played by the rules, worked hard at school and taken on thousands of pounds of debt to get a degree are finding themselves cast aside in a career market that values experience over qualifications.