Unpaid Internships In London Now Cost More Than £1,000 A Month

Research shows that the cost of an unpaid internship in London has exceeded £1,000 per month, beyond the reach of low- and middle-income families and prohibiting those in need of essential work experience. The cost of a one-month unpaid internship in London now has a minimum cost of £1,019, leaving a six-month unpaid internship to cost at least £6,114. In Manchester, the six-month unpaid placement cost would total a minimum of £4,965, according to research from social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust.

Internships may provide helpful opportunities for young people looking to compete in the fields of politics, PR, arts, fashion, and journalism. However, young people are often expected to work for no compensation besides travel expense and there are often issues regarding transparency, as the positions are sometimes awarded through informal networks rather than through open advertisement.

Since the Sutton Trust last examined the financial implications of internships four years ago, costs have risen significantly. In 2014 minimum cost was £926 per month in London (£5,556 for six months) and £788 in Manchester (£4,728 for six months).

The report describes as ‘unfair’ the circumstances that remain unresolved, such as confusion between an unpaid intern and a worker, and difficulties in filing claims. It also points to the lack of transparency, in which informal systems are still often used to award internships.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said that “large numbers of internships are never advertised and instead offered through informal networks. This practice locks out young people without connections. Also, the process by which potential candidates are selected for internships should uphold the same standards of recruitment as for other jobs.”

The Sutton Trust backs a Conservative bill that bans unpaid internships over four weeks. The bill, written by Conservative peer Chris Holmes, has been introduced to Parliament.


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