Work-for-free graduate employment culture

The continuing rise in graduate unemployment has seen a sharp increase in public sector organisations using unpaid interns.  The economic and employment crisis of recent years has seen this type of working practice expanded to different sectors, including higher education as this article suggests. The 1994 Group of universities – a group of research-intensive educational institutions, have advertised for “dynamic, talented, questioning” individuals with “excellent communication and analytical skills” and a “demonstrable interest in higher education”. This, in theory, appears to be attractive graduate job, but is in actual fact a work-for-free intern position.

The increase popularity of unpaid internship by recruiters has posed a financial dilemma for many graduates and raised questions work place exploitation. Ben Lyons, co-director of Intern Aware, believes that “working for free is impossible for the majority of graduates”. Tanya de Grunward, author of Dude, Where’s My Career? The founder of graduatefog, says the practice is exploitative:

“Can they seriously claim to be working for the good of our country’s young people, when they are taking advantage of their most junior workers like this? In the case of the 1994 Group, its members are among the most prestigious universities in the UK. Considering how much money those interns, and we are assuming they are likely to be graduates, have just spent on their education, I think these ads are an insult to graduates.”

In response to the advert, the 1994 Group says its internships are carried out on a volunteer basis. A spokeswoman says: “The 1994 Group believes in providing worthwhile opportunities for graduates, which enhances their learning of work place practices. The group does so in the form of internships, which are undertaken by the individual on a volunteer basis.

Categories: Higher Education

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