Labour Market

We may have to charge for internships


Government and Institutions

Reaction to the launch of the UK Independence Party's Manifesto

Government and Institutions

Reaction to the launch of the Scottish National Party's Manifesto

Banning unpaid internships is misguided

Commenting on the Labour Party’s plans to end unpaid internships that last for more than four weeks, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Internships frequently offer a chance for young people to improve their career opportunities and expand their horizons. It is simply untrue that all internships are exploitative relationships that only advantage the employer. Banning the practice is an extremely blunt instrument and is likely to significantly reduce the amount of opportunities available.

“At the Institute of Economic Affairs, we take on dozens of unpaid interns every year, very often for periods longer than four weeks. They benefit from coming to an extensive range of events, a programme of debates and discussions and expert supervision of their research work. To force companies such as ours to pay interns the minimum wage is as absurd as expecting universities to pay their students for writing essays and attending lectures.

“If Ed Miliband’s proposal became law, we could well choose to start charging for the privilege of becoming a ‘trainee’ or ‘scholar’ at the IEA rather than providing these internships for free. Although we could try to help those from poorer backgrounds by seeking to raise money for a bursary scheme, the impact of the Labour Party policy would be to make it harder for those without rich parents to access the opportunities we seek to offer young people.”

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview please contact: Camilla Goodwin, Communications Officer 0207 799 8929 or 07821 971 443

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

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