Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The End of Internships

The Commons have enthusiastically voted, 182 against 19, in favour for a laws proposal to ban unpaid internships.
These laws are designed, according to its proponent, a certain Mr Shellbrooke, to give equal opportunities for individuals to gain access to this form of employment/training.
Mr. Shellbrooke argues that, currently, individuals from less privileged backgrounds can not get access to internships because they can not afford to work for free.
Therefore, it follows that if employers are forced to pay their interns, a larger number of people will be able to enjoy the benefits of working as an intern. 
Mr Shellbrooke, a conservative MP, believes this would create greater equality.
I could not disagree more with this logic. 

Maybe the honorable MP is right and equal opportunities for young and unexperienced people would result from his proposal, but the likelihood of a rather important and quantifiable diminution of these same opportunities seems to have been ignored completely. 

Businesses employ interns mainly to save money by getting someone to perform basic tasks and providing work experience in exchange. Internship offers are also given by companies to help someone with specific training which could eventually lead to formal employment in the future.
There are many other reasons for companies, organisations and businesses to offer internships and many if not all of them will certainly aim to benefit both parties: interns and their employers.
Internships are an exchange of services, not charity.
The intern is remunerated by getting experience. This is probably worth much more than a few weeks or a couple of months of minimum wage earnings anyway. 

So, although one can not always pay the bills by doing an internship, it is important to reflect on the fact that individuals usually pay in order to learn and acquire skills, this is called studying.

Seen from the perspective of an employer, having to pay for an intern with no experience could be unjustifiable. This simple reason can dissuade many potential businesses and organisations from offering internships. These businesses and companies will, instead of taking unexperienced people, use their money to hire someone with the required work experience and skills.

Of course this catastrophic scenario can be prevented if people like Mr Shellbrooke in the House of Commons, decide it should be forced upon employers to take interns or face the law, such is the good old fashioned way of solving problems for equalitarians.

It becomes clear that if such proposals should be passed by our friends at the House of Commons, then a decline in number of internship opportunities would necesserily ensue.
Moreover, since less opportunities would be available, the concurrence for internship position would be much higher and many more young people would be left without opportunities to be employed to train, thus effectively achieving the contrary of what was intended by this incongruent proposals.

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