Overwhelming public support for unpaid internships ban

An overwhelming majority of the British public support Chris’s private members bill which would introduce a legal ban on unpaid internships lasting four weeks or more. New polling data, released by the Social Mobility Commission today (Monday 23rd October), has found that 72 per cent of the public back a change in the law – with 42 per cent ‘strongly supporting’ a ban.

The YouGov polling of nearly 5,000 people has been released ahead of the second reading of Chris’s private members bill in the House of Lords this Friday (October 27th) which proposes a ban on unpaid work experience or internships lasting more than four weeks.

The survey also reveals that 80 per cent of people want companies to be required to openly advertise internships and work experience opportunities, rather than organise them informally.

The Social Mobility Commission, a Government-sponsored independent body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for a ban in its successive State of the Nation reports to parliament.

A broad consensus of support for a ban has emerged in recent years, including:

· The All Party Parliament Group into Social Mobility has called for a ban on unpaid internships over 4 weeks after hearing evidence on barriers to social mobility.

· In April, the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report which provided new evidence that internships have increased to around 70,000 a year and also recommended a ban after 4 weeks. Many times this number – up to half – are locked out of these opportunities because they are unpaid and/or restricted to networks.

· Leading businesses and trade bodies support a four week limit. The Institute of Student Employers, Arts Council,

UK Music, Creative Skillset, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Business in the Community, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and Trust for London all oppose long term unpaid internships.

· The Matthew Taylor review into employment practices recently concluded: “It is clear to us that unpaid internships are an abuse of power by employers and extremely damaging to social mobility.”

· A four week limit is supported by two-thirds of businesses, with only one-in-eight opposing the legislation (YouGov 2014).

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end. Internships are the new rung on the career ladder. They have become a route to a good professional job. But access to them tends to depend on who not what you know and young people from low income backgrounds are excluded because they are unpaid.

They miss out on a great career opportunity and employers miss out from a wider pool of talent. Unpaid internships are damaging for social mobility. It is time to consign them to history.”

Chris welcomed the findings saying: “I’m delighted that the vast majority of the public support this straightforward and sensible change to the law. Unpaid internships leave young people in a Catch 22 situation; 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. The practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creativity and competitiveness and holds individuals and our country back. It’s time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens.” #payinterns

Lord Holmes: Calling time on the scandal of unpaid internships, Politics Home

Public ‘backs ban on long unpaid internships’, BBC News

Public backs ban on long-term unpaid internships, study finds, Guardian

A modern scandal which must end” – the group calling for 4-week unpaid internships to be banned for good, Mirror

Majority back ban on unpaid work experience and internships, The Times

If you really care about social mobility, you won’t support paying interns, Independent

Social Mobility Commission: Vast Majority Of Public Would Support Ban On Unpaid Internships, Huffington Post

Unpaid internships are damaging to social mobility, FE News

BBC Radio 4 Today

BBC Breakfast 

House of Lords Select Committee Report on Social Mobility Published

I grew up in working class Kidderminster and am now in the House of Lords.  I haven’t the first idea how this came to pass but I guess social mobility must be in it somewhere.

It was that and more which made me delighted to be part of the select committee on social mobility, our report is published today.

Our report focusses not on those on the A-level University pathway, nor on the NEETs, both groups pretty well served, from policy, think tanks and successive Governments at least.  No, our focus was the large group in between, those who we found suffering incoherent options, chaos and confusion.  Those who we concluded were experiencing a terrible muddle in the middle.

We wanted to be sure that our recommendations wouldn’t add to the policy fragmentation which has hindered progress and clarity. Instead we recommend a cohesive system: a core curriculum for those aged 14 –19, with tailor made academic or vocational elements, a gold standard in careers advice, and careers education in schools that empowers young people to make good decisions about their future.

This system needs to be underpinned by reliable and publicly available data. It needs to be properly funded, owned by a single Minister, and monitored for success. Only by taking these actions can we make sure that all of our young people have the best chances of success.

We also need to see an end to the inequality between university and other routes, inequality in terms of funding, inequality in terms of thinking.

What is perhaps most pressing though for policy makers and frankly, for us all is the revolution currently underway which will leave our labour market changed beyond recognition, most pertinent here, so many of those jobs which were the enablers of social mobility from the sixties onwards, those jobs, swept away on a tide of turmoil and tech.

In the UK 35% of jobs are in danger of automation, by the same token, over one million new jobs required in the digital sector by the end of this decade alone.  What these new opportunities will require is far more focus on skills rather than subjects and resilience rather than rote learn.

What we need is focus, on the individual. What services and support, can be wrapped around them, not least careers education and guidance, character education, communication skills, team working, self-management and self belief to name just some.

As communities, as a country, we can no longer continue to tolerate this lack of focus on such a large group of our young people, this waste, this wanting.  We need to smash the silos; between Government departments, between different routes, silos of thinking, silos that stifle, silos that stunt.  The silos must be smashed, individual’s purpose must be pushed to the fore and then, then we can unleash the talent.