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UK — Introduction of training wage fundamentally inadequate and unfair says NCWE

05 July 2010

Commenting on the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) proposed introduction of a training wage, Heather Collier, director of the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) said, "The NCWE supports the CIPD's concern regarding the potential exploitation of interns and for their fair payment.

However, the CIPD's new policy paper, which calls for the introduction of a training wage of 2.50 Pounds aligned to the minimum wage for apprentices is fundamentally inadequate and unfair."

"Apprentices, typically aged 16-19, enter their profession after school with the intention of receiving intensive industry training for three years, whilst mainly living at home. Interns, whether student or graduate:
  • offer businesses much more advanced skills and competencies
  • are often mature (21+) and have already experienced work, and can bring professional/trade qualifications as well as HE learning
  • have already invested in their learning and future careers and many have incurred substantial debts (20,000+ Pounds)."

"Interns in most cases do not represent a greater learning curve for the employer than most other permanent new members of staff, and in most cases could prove their value to the organisation in a shorter period of time. They should be treated exactly the same as employees because they are undertaking work duties. They are not just watching others work."

"Unpaid internships should be treated now as a breach of National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation, as seen in the recent case against London Dreams Motion pictures, where the tribunal decided it is unlawful to pay employees expenses only and that all employees should be entitled to expect the national minimum wage, which is 5.80 Pounds per hour for those 22 years and over (rising to 5.93 Pounds for all those over 21 in October 2010). It is 4.83 Pounds for those 18—21 and for young people (16—17 year olds) it is 3.57 Pounds."

"The CIPD's proposal would create an underclass of highly educated adults in the workforce being paid less than inexperienced school-leavers. This will do nothing for poorer graduates and will effectively mean that unless they have other sources of income (such as wealthy parents or partners), they will simply not be able to participate in internships. Consequently, they will miss out on substantive employment opportunities with businesses that use internship as a recruitment tool."

"The unintended consequence of the CIPD proposals will be that internships will become the industrial/commercial 'finishing school' of the middle classes and not the hoped for vanguard of social mobility.

"The key point is this: good quality internships ought to add value to the company and enhance the employability of the student/graduate. If internships are not of benefit to both parties, they ought not to be offered or accepted. If the intern adds value, the company should pay at least the NMW."

 

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