Unpaid internships are “huge social mobility issue”

Sutton Trust finds 90% of work placements are unpaid
Miles Rowland
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A recent study has identified the arts as one of the “most problematic sectors” for unpaid internships.
The Pay As you Go? report, carried out by educational charity The Sutton Trust, found that nearly 90% of arts internships were unpaid.
It also identified expectations that young people needed to complete several internships. The arts had one of the highest rates of placements per person, with 32% of interns completing three or more.
Peter Lampl, the founder of the Sutton Trust, pinpointed culture as a desirable sector that is relatively inaccessible to young people from low and moderate-income backgrounds due to the prevalence of unpaid internships.
Lampl added: "This is a huge social mobility issue. It prevents these young people from getting a foot on the ladder."
The report also found that 34% of arts placements showed none of the characteristics of a good internship. Former interns had high rates of unemployment or figured among those on the lowest salaries.
The report comes as parliament debates the Unpaid Work Experience Bill. The bill, which would ban unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks, is expected to have its second reading debate in the House of Commons on 25 January 2019.
Tamsin Russell, the professional development officer at the Museums Association, said: “We adopt a whole workforce approach to both our membership and our programming and hope to meet the needs of all those contributing to the sector.
“We know that having a diverse workforce that reflects our population and the communities we serve can add richness and relevance.
“This can only be achieved through having an open and accessible approach to entering the sector. This can be facilitated by a range of good practices.
“With respect to internships specifically, principle 3 in the MA’s Code of Ethics talks about the need for fair, consistent and transparent processes. This does not seem to be in place consistently, as highlighted in the Sutton Report, but resonates with their aspirations.”
Creative and Cultural Skills recently produced a guide for employers on best practice relating to apprenticeships, internships, and volunteering earlier this year. The online guide, produced in collaboration with Arts Council England, is available here.
Should unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks be banned, as the Unpaid Work Experience Bill proposes? Vote in our poll.

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