“Things are changing dramatically. A few years ago, many unpaid jobs with Members of Parliament were advertised on w4mp; now it is just the odd job. Usually when I contact a Member to explain what is going on, the adverts come down. There are still one or two outliers in Parliament, and we encourage everyone to do the right thing.”
So said Hazel Blears MP in the debate she initiated last Tuesday 18 June on “the scandal of long-term unpaid internships”.
You can read the whole debate starting here:
W4MP asked three MPs closely involved in the ‘Let’s Get Our House In Order’ campaign for their views and here they are.
Hazel Blears MP (Salford and Eccles):
“I was delighted that so many MPs showed their support for my campaign against unpaid internships by taking part in my Adjournment Debate and signing up to pledge to pay their interns.Internships can be a valuable way for young people to get their foot on the career ladder, be it in the world of politics, journalism, PR or fashion. A short work experience placement can be a valuable introduction to the world of work, but a long-term unpaid internships lasting for several months is just exploitation. Recruitment sites such as Monster and Total Jobs are doing the right thing by banning adverts of this nature, but we need to send out a clear message – starting here in Parliament – that unpaid internships have no place in Britain in the 21st century.”
Julian Huppert MP (Cambridge):
“We need to send a strong message that long-term unpaid internships should be a thing of the past if we are to give everyone the same opportunity. If we are not setting an example how can we call on businesses and other organisations to pay their young people? Many politicians began their careers working as unpaid interns before going on to get a permanent jobs; but these internships are largely restricted to young people who can afford to live and work for free supported by their parents. It is simply unfair that those people who are not in this position don’t have the same opportunities and we need to change that.”
Eric Ollerenshaw MP (Lancaster and Fleetwood):
“As a Northern MP, I understand how difficult it is for students without any money or connections behind them to even consider internships in London, or any work at all where they would not be paid. Unless we get a proper system of paid internships we will continue to lose out on this excellent talent. This campaign is to ensure that merit not family circumstances is the means to gain that vital first step on the professional, commercial and political ladder.”
Here are some useful websites with views on this topic:
If you can add to this list please email firstname.lastname@example.org.