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The growing cost of internships could add to inequality

Paula McDonald and colleagues write in The Conversation (20.6.16) about the problems and barriers faced by some young jobseekers, increasingly encouraged by governments and employers to sign on to internship schemes in the hope of later securing a more permanent position.

'Internships and unpaid work can sometimes lead to ongoing employment, but our research shows there are various costs that may exclude people who are economically disadvantaged.

'Substantial out-of-pocket expenses can be associated with an internship and few interns receive reimbursements for the costs incurred. For example, if the workplace is not close to where the intern lives, significant travel or accommodation costs, not to mention substantial travel time, may be required to undertake the placement. And sometimes there are costs associated with specialist clothes, personal protective equipment or materials that interns have to pay for.

'Our research found that students who participate in unpaid work, organised privately outside of course requirements, are often required to cover the cost of liability insurance during their internship.

' ... There is a high level of willingness from young people to participate in internships. The challenge is ensuring those who struggle to afford out-of-pocket expenses are not excluded.'

 

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