Nearly half of young people have taken an unpaid internship in the UK

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Nearly half of young people have taken an unpaid internship in the UK, a survey has revealed.

The research, conducted by Prospects, found that young people are more likely to work as an intern unpaid than receive a wage.

The graduate careers expert asked nearly 9,000 16 to 25 year olds about the types of work they had undertaken. While 48 per cent had undertaken an unpaid internship, just 17 per cent had been paid for their work experience.

People living in Northern Ireland were the most likely to have worked unpaid, with 59 per cent saying they had undertaken an unpaid internship. People in the North East were the least likely to work unpaid.

When choosing an internship, the most important factor for half of the respondents was that it was related to their career ambitions. A quarter of respondents said they looked at internships to get some experience for their CV, while only a tenth said that payment was an important decision-making factor.

The survey findings support recent data by Brussels Interns NGO (Bingo), which estimates that more than half of internships in Europe are unpaid. The data also shows that almost 30 per cent of interns don’t believe their unpaid experience was useful in finding a permanent job.

Speaking about the survey results, Jayne Rowley, Chief Executive at Prospects said, “While unpaid internships are a feature of the student jobs market in the UK, they are not legal and companies should not offer them.”

“An intern is entitled to be paid if they are a worker and no exclusions to the national minimum wage apply.”

“Graduates should not feel that working unpaid is a necessity for their career.”

“If a job is worth doing, it is worth paying for.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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