Almost one in 5 UK business admits using internships as a source of cheap labour. 17% of employers said they had taken on interns in order to get work done more cheaply in a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Internocracy, a social enterprise working for better internships. And 95% of the 218 businesses questioned said that interns were very useful to their organisations.
These statistics show clearly how businesses are benefiting from the work done by interns eager to gain that vital work experience. But anyone doing real work deserves to be paid in real money, not just in 'learning opportunities'. A quarter of a million people are estimated to be working in internships in the UK, the vast majority unpaid.
The Deputy Prime Minister has announced a social mobility strategy, aiming to put an end to unpaid internships which offer opportunity only to those who have someone to support them while they work for nothing. This will include pushing employers to pay at least the National Minimum Wage to young people doing extended work experience. Most interns are already entitled to the Minimum Wage – find out more about interns' rights at work.