Transitions’ position statement on unpaid Internships
The statement in the link and paragraphs below is a clarification of Transitions' current position on facilitating unpaid internships. We would value your comments.
Transitions has had a number of discussions recently with a range of people and organisations about the role and value of unpaid internships (also known as 'work experience placements') in the UK. It is obviously something that Transitions provides and supports. There is a proven record in the refugee sector and other employment support sectors that 3-6 month internships are a proven way to assist someone without UK work experience, familiarity with the UK jobs market or references in their field of work to move on into paid work.
Internships are far more common in the UK than a few years ago. Many are unpaid. Internships is a worryingly grey area from the point of view of good practice and law. Especially the question of payment. There are wide disparities of practice across organisations and Transitions wishes to contribute to best practice.
In Transitions' view, there is a legitimate place for internships in the labour market. Transitions would like internships to be paid an allowance of at at least the equivalence of the minimum wage. Internships provide the opportunity to gain the experience that is necessary to get through selection processes for substantive jobs. Unpaid internships are volunteering. Jobcentre Plus customers may take up voluntary internships and remain in receipt of benefits, so long as they continue to actively seek work. This is also an issue that Transitions is asking Jobcentre Plus to look at: allowing 3-6 month unpaid work experience for refugees without the requirement to actively seek work at the same time.