Unpaid graduate interns are mostly female, report shows

Almost two-thirds of graduates in unpaid internships six months after leaving university are female, according to new research.

July 12, 2013

An analysis by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) found that less than 1 per cent of graduates were taking the controversial placements.

Critics have claimed that unpaid internships exclude young people who cannot rely on their families to support them financially during the placement, and so limit social mobility.

A total of 1,835 graduates who left university in 2011-12 were known to be in unpaid internships six months later, HECSU said, and they were clustered in the design, publishing and media, advertising, and public relations industries.

Six out of ten were in London, but the practice was hardly reported at all in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East of England.

Master’s graduates (0.5 per cent) were slightly less likely to be taking unpaid internships than first degree graduates (0.6 per cent).

The conclusions draw on data from the 2011-12 Destination of Leavers of Higher Education survey.

Charlie Ball, HECSU’s deputy director of research, said: “For the first time this data gives us hard evidence of the nature and extent of unpaid internship for new graduates.

He added: “Ideally we would like to see this figure as low as possible with everybody who is classed as a worker paid fairly.

“What’s clear is that there remain many industries that still have a job to do in terms of cleaning up their employment practices.”


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Reader's comments (1)

Hi there, I wouldn't mind admitting that unpaid internship is good if it brings added value to both the company and the young graduate involved in the internship. That is, by giving a real opportunity to the graduate to learn new skills that he or she will later trade on the job market (not creating binders or making cup of tea to the Boss or attending visitors which are administrative tasks to be done by a hired staff). Although, the real unfairness of the whole process is elsewhere. Unpaid internship gives no opportunity to people with less financial means to gain a working experience. This in the long run just contributes to creating a culture of keeping the poor in their poverty and encouraging the rich to get more richer. In addition, unpaid internship cuts out of the job market all those young talent that are from poor financial background and I doubt that this is at the advantage of the hiring company. Unpaid is unfair as any young graduate out there will notice!!!

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