Our partners at The Sutton Trust have published research on the prevalence of unpaid internships. The report, Pay as You Go, reveals that almost half of the employers who offer internships offer unpaid placements. Middle-class graduates are more likely to have completed an internship than their working-class peers, and are more likely to be funded by parents or to use personal connections to gain an internship.
This news is a reminder that family backgrounds and income are still major barriers to so many young people entering the workforce – which is, quite frankly, unacceptable.
The privilege to work for free is afforded to just a small percentage of young people and it automatically denies bright, hardworking individuals from reaching their potential. Alternatively, for those who swallow the financial burden themselves for a shot in that industry, they can face desperate financial insecurity.
At Bright Network we only work with partners who pay their interns.
We must encourage other businesses to actively engage with a more varied group of young people and bright minds to create diversity of thought in the workplace. There is clearly a lack of understanding of the huge benefits this brings to a business’s growth trajectory.
Unpaid internships have a knock-on effect throughout the sector, inhibiting diversity and boosting a culture of nepotism.
Some of the worst offending sectors – including fashion and politics – face huge criticism for being so un-reflective of modern British society.
Opening the door to a more diverse range of young people is one surefire way to revive, improve and innovative these industries.
The Sutton Trust is the UK’s leading social mobility foundation and works to improve access to leading universities and careers among young people from less advantaged backgrounds. It works with corporate partners to deliver work experience, and universities to provide insight into higher education, as well as research and policy advocacy. We work with the Trust on its alumni programme, which offers every student that takes part in one of its programmes access to an outstanding alumni community, as well as further support as they move forward in their careers.