Unpaid internships are likely to be a major election issue for young people who find themselves stuck in a catch 22 situation - where they are unable to get a job because they haven’t got experience, and unable to get experience because they can’t afford to work for free.
In the recent series of manifesto launches, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to “clamp down on abuses by employers seeking to avoid paying the minimum wage by reviewing practices such as unpaid internships”. The Labour manifesto is similar, promising to “tackle the growth of unpaid internships” so as to help “young people who cannot afford to work for free”. The Green manifesto is more specific, and commits to “end the exploitation of interns; ensure no unpaid full-time internship lasts more than four weeks”.
This is a major step forward. In the 2010 election campaign no party mentioned internships in their manifestos or in the campaign. With three parties committing to action on unpaid internships – and with the election so close – there is a real chance that the next Government will take real action to end the exploitation of interns.