The number of new internships has risen by 50% since 2010, according to a report from the IPPR thinktank. As the number of graduate jobs declines, temporary positions are now a ‘must have’ on entry level CV’s. Professional recruiters have also admitted that candidates with no work experience have minimal chance of receiving a job offer.
11,000 internships are advertised each year but in reality, around 70,000 internships are available. Many of these positions do not offer meaningful opportunities as working conditions are poor and often inaccessible to young people without connections.
Discrimination, low confidence and lack of knowledge are some factors that can prevent those from less privileged backgrounds from securing an internship. So could internships be acting as a barrier to employment rather than as a stepping stone?
The number of permanent entry-level graduate jobs have fallen by 5% since 2010; graduates in high-skilled work positions are also in a long-term decline as figures dropped from 61% to 56%.
It seems that internships – paid or unpaid have become a permanent feature of the graduate labour market, and mainly open to those from wealthy backgrounds. Internships, in general, are difficult to access in many sectors with connections playing a pivotal role.
Research also found that publishing, media and arts industry are difficult for graduates from poorer backgrounds to access. These types of sectors have a high number of internships, for example, in the creative industry film and television accounts for 8% of the job market, however, 16% of the roles are internships.
Whilst internships can be valuable for some, they can also act as a barrier to professional development as many are unpaid or not advertised, thus making them inaccessible to young people who cannot afford to work for free.