Ross Perlin, the author of Intern Nation, comments on the current fight against unpaid and underpaid internships in Britain. In an interview for Graduate Fog, Perlin discusses some of the positive steps which are being taken in order to end this harmful practice.
The name-and-shame culture in the UK is really interesting from a US perspective, where people are really reluctant to single out unscrupulous employers. Likewise, the Cashback for Interns scheme [organised by the National Union of Journalists] is very impressive: unions in America have steered clear of this issue, and there’s no one out there helping interns get justice or navigate all the legal issues out there.
Although the situation here is not as extreme as in the United States, Perlin warns us about falling down a slippery slope. Furthermore, since more and more companies are keeping their unpaid interns for longer periods, these practices are affecting the hiring processes and keeping unemployment high.
One way to engage the broader society in this discussion is to bring up how unpaid and underpaid internships are displacing regular workers and keeping unemployment high. Calling a halt to the dangerous new trend of longer-term unpaid work will strengthen the positive aspects of the British tradition of work experience and mean more paying jobs and opportunities for upward mobility across the board.
Visit Graduate Fog to read the interview in full.