Commercial Slavery

My name is Ben,

I am not an alcoholic..

I do part time lecturing in Graphic Design at a College of Art, dealing with BA Graphic Design students. Part of my work is to help create the scenarios whereby students have things in place before contacting studios and agencies to gain work placements, and this new Americanised idea of ‘Internships’. Unpaid experience, which in a lot of cases is being left on the periphery of the industry for some weeks and not utilised as much as the could  and should be.

Some do get paid, and that is how it should be, if they play an active and contributory role whilst they are there. I thought slavery had been abolished? Graduating designers are being taken on for 3 month stretches and not sure what the conclusion may be…fresh blood as they are, full of pulsing creativity, working free and being forced to live with the worry of debt and feeling a burden. Not the best way to nurture the creative resource and the talents of the future.

When will the powers that be, realise that there should be a system of payment for graduates that echoes the need within the industry for new talent…funded by the Government, or a pool resource from the industry? Although they are job seekers what repayment do they get from the fees they paid and the blood, sweat and real tears that the ones I work with attain…all for free. 

Seems it is time for recognition of this system and change for the better.

A rant? Or a concern.

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3 Responses to “Commercial Slavery”


  1. 1 Anon 06/30/2010 at 2:49 pm

    I would be interested to know your opinion on unpaid internships within charities. I fear that if charities think they are going to be sued for offereing unpaid internship they will simply stop doing updaid internships. I myself have done several within charities, to get into my choosen career of international development and I thought they were hugely valuable. I completely understand it restricts people who are less well off but most internships are very flexible and you can work at the same time as well. Thoughts much appreciated.

    • 2 Rosy Rickett 07/01/2010 at 8:38 am

      Hello!
      Charities are always and probably will always be exempt from NMW wage legislation because of the nature of their work. As it stands there are clauses in employment law that allow charities to operate different systems to business. For me the important thing is to keep the internships flexible-so not expecting people to come in full-time, setting aside time for job searching and CV surgeries if the charity knows that their intern is looking for a job, being aware that people may need to leave early or take a day off if they need to work. Etc. I know charities like Groundwork and Merlin definitely have these kind of working practices in place…equally I know that some charities offer 6 month unpaid, 45-hour week internships, which only those who are superhuman (and they do exist) could do with another full-time job…
      Rosy IA

  2. 3 Anon 07/01/2010 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you. It would be great if I could get the legal stuff so I can forward it to the people I am trying to convince that charities should be allowed to offer unpaid internships. All the unpaid charity internships I have done have been very flexible and supoportive in all aspects of getting the career I have now thankfully got. Oxfam were fantastic.


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