Over at The Student Room election sensation Nick Clegg has been talking about internships. He thinks interns need to be valued, with 800,000 placements paying £55 a week to be created by a Lib Dem government. Pity the last intern position he advertised for was unpaid.
Also the maths: 800,000 internships at £55 a week for 3 months by the end of 2010
800,000 X £55 X 12 weeks = £528,000,000 or HALF A BILLION on internships that provide no guarantee of a job? Madness.
Another politician using internships as a buzzword for getting people back to work without understanding the faintest thing about them.
He was asked:
How do you plan to respond to the growing prevalence of unpaid internships, including parliamentary internships? What is your view on unpaid internships, placements and work experience in relation to the law and to National Minimum Wage rules? How will you ensure that internships are open to all, rather than to those who are in a position to work for free?
A very good question!
Nick Clegg’s answer:
You’re right, there are now a lot of interns working very hard and getting paid little or nothing for it. The danger is ending up in a situation where internships are exclusive to those young people whose parents can afford to help them. Internships can be an amazing way of getting a flavour for a possible career when you’re young and that option should be open to as many young people as possible. I know myself how fantastic that experience can be – I got to intern in New York, working on a magazine called ‘The Nation’ for Christopher Hitchens. Opening up the opportunity to intern to more people is important to my party, and we have a plan to create 800,000 internships in our first year in office, helping all the young people now struggling to find work. We’ve made sure that those places will be paid at £55 a week – enough to cover basic costs, and more than you get collecting Job Seekers’ Allowance.
Quite how you can afford to live in London – let alone pay rent – on £55 a week is beyond me. That’s about as much as the average internship gives in travel and lunch money. Clegg of course recounts his own internship with the hitch. I wonder how he afforded to pay rent in New York for 3 months? What interns really want, and what they are legally entitled to is National Minimum Wage. Something Nick Clegg didn’t even give his own interns.