Social mobility tsar calls for internships to “no longer be treated as part of the informal economy”

I’ve just been catching up with Government Social Mobility Tsar Alan Milburn’s new report “Fair Access to Professional Careers”, which was publ;ished by the Cabinet Office on 31 March (see link below). Mr Milburn, an ex Labour Minister, had previously conducted a similar exercise  for the last Government.

Alan has picked up that some internships have been substituted for paid employment and that many interns are actually “workers” in the eyes of the law.

Hi report also found that narrow routes of access into top jobs mean that the current crop of young professionals were a “mirror image” of the older generation.

73% of High Court Judges and 54% of top journalists had been privately educated, as had 35% of MPs in the latest intake (in 1997 the figure had been 30%).

Many of the things that Alan said at the launch mirror the longs-standing concerns of interns and the TUC:

  • “internships should no longer be part of the informal economy”
  • a fair process of selection and fair terms, including remuneration” are needed
  • recruiting informally and not paying interns meant that those from less affluent backgrounds were excluded because “they simply could not afford to work for free for any length of time”.

Responding for the Government, Nick Clegg said that “progress has not been fast enough .. we’lll be picking up the pace in the coming months …and looking at what more the Government can and should do”.

So the problem has clearly been identified. However, words are not enough. Action has been promised by the Deputy Prime Minister – the important thing is that we must hold him to that!


Read the report:


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