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Government report calls for national standards for internships

21 July 2009

The UK government has published a report proping a best practice code and Kitemark system to improve the quality of internships provided in professions such as journalism. These are two of the recommendations in the Unleashing Aspirations report, published today.

The NUJ has welcomed the calls to introduce national standards for internships as a positive first step in challenging exploitative unpaid work experience placements.

The NUJ has been campaigning for a number of years for the government to tackle the use of bogus work experience placements by media companies to get work done for free.

The new report shows how the cost of unpaid internships, as well as the debt acquired when undertaking journalism courses, presents a barrier for those from less well-off backgrounds to enter journalism.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"This report shows how the use of unpaid internships has undermined the diversity of our profession. It is good to see the government recognising the problem and we are now looking for swift action to ensure the financial barriers to entering journalism are lowered.
"The NUJ welcomes the report's proposals to develop national standards as a first step in stamping out exploitative practices across the media. Genuine work experience is vital to anyone coming in to the profession, but all too often these placements are of very low quality.
"Too many employers see internships as a way of getting work done for free, without any thought towards their responsibilities to provide would-be journalists with a learning opportunity.
"We look forward to working with others in the sector to develop standards in this area and will continue to pressure the government to take action against those employers that use bogus work experience to exploit aspiring journalists and avoid minimum wage rules."

Tags: , interns, government uk, work experience, employment rights, unpaid work