Unpaid internships are preventing young people from more modest backgrounds from accessing the most lucrative and desirable careers, according to a new report. The Sutton Trust, which commissioned the report, is a charity focused on disadvantages in education and social mobility.
The charity estimates that some 40% of the roughly 70,000 internships undertaken in the UK each year are unpaid. Internships are still as desirable experience by many employers and provide an invaluable opportunity to meet new connections. Many last between three and six months. The Sutton Trust estimates that a minimum of £1,019 (€1,160) per month is needed to survive in London for a month.
Unpaid interns might be expected to fork out upwards of €5,000 for the whole period. This makes it extremely difficult for young people from poorer families to even consider the idea, the reports authors say. Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, also voiced concern that many internships are not advertised publicly. Instead they are spread on informal networks and through word of mouth, meaning only young people with family connections hear about them.
He has called on governments to implement minimum wage payments for all internships. ‘Failure to do so prevents young people from low and moderate-income backgrounds from accessing jobs in some of the most desirable sectors, such as journalism, fashion, the arts and politics”, he said.
Nearly a third of young people in countries suffering from disaster and conflict are illiterate. A UNICEF study on almost 60 million young people aged 15-24 found that girls are most likely to miss out on education. The report drew on statistics from 27 countries affected by violent conflict and/or environmental disaster. The worst four countries were in Africa. In Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic the vast majority of young adults are illiterate. In Niger the figure is 76%.
New executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, has called on governments to invest more in quality education, and from an early age. UNICEF funding is mostly devoted to humanitarian disasters and meeting basic food and infrastructure needs. This means that just 3.6% of UNICEF’s humanitarian funding goes to education. The organisation will spent just $1 billion on education in the next four years. “For all children to fully reap the benefits of learning, it is key that they get the best quality education possible, as early as possible,” Fore said. “An uneducated child who grows into an illiterate youth in a country ripped apart by conflict or destroyed by disasters may not have much of a chance.”
Tales of war and heroism will soon be forgotten, with just one in five young people visiting their grandparents. A new study of 1,000 children and teenagers found that 21% spoke with their older relatives regularly. A quarter of those who visited their grandparents said they only did so to collect pocket money. Half of those questioned said they had no idea what their grandparents did before they retired. One in ten admitted they didn’t care.
Even when they do interact, young people aren’t learning much about their grandparents’ lives or achievements. Conversations are usually focused on school and toys, not history and life in earlier generations. As a result just 6% of children said they considered one of their grandparents to be a role model. But 43% said they found them funny. Young people aged 18-24 aren’t much better. Another survey has found that they are 20 times more likely never to speak to their next door neighbours. Instead, 44% revealed that they would prefer talking to strangers using social media, not face-to-face interaction. More than a quarter said they had never spoken to a stranger on a bus or train. Almost half said they always used headphones when travelling in public.
Photos: Shutterstock / Collage: Martina Advaney