Does the predominance of unpaid internships offered to school and university leavers infantilise a generation of young adults? Does the increase in such roles contribute to the phenomenon of 'extended adolescence' - the growing trend of adults abstaining from settling down in a traditional sense, and living lives as perpetual teenagers?
Exploring these issues in the latest Psychologies magazine, Decca Aitkenhead asks the author of Intern Nation, Ross Perlin, his views on the social impact of the growing culture of exploitative internships.
"Internships in the traditional sense used to be something you would do in your Summer holidays while at school, but now they do them after they graduate and well into their twenties. And a third to half of all internships are unpaid, and the rest are not well paid."
Perlin goes on to concur with the sentiments expressed by Aitkenhead, and thinks that the increased use of interns as cheap labour providers can have a pronounced psychological impact.
..it's one of the factors that leads to this prolonged adolescence. I think we can consider it infantilising, because it means you cannot move into the stake-holder role in society that's traditionally been thought of as adulthood.
The article will appear in the September 2011 issue of Psychologies magazine (not yet available online).