Tag Archives: internships

Swinson argues against unpaid internships, Leech advertises for unpaid interns. Who’s right?

On the face of it, Liberal Democrats are sending out mixed messages on internships at the moment.

Jo Swinson, as employment minister, has been promoting the Government’s Pay and Rights helpline (0800 917 2368) and talking about it being appropriate to pay interns while John Leech’s office in Manchester is offering an unpaid internship proramme. This is in contrast to the party’s internship programme which is offering the National Minimum Wage.

Jo on Good Morning Scotland (from around 1:52 in) that she wanted to ensure that employers were not unwittingly or unintentionally doing the wrong thing and making sure that people …

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An open letter to Tim Farron on unpaid internships

Dear Tim,

We are writing to you to express our feelings on the subject of unpaid internships.

There can be all sorts of barriers for people who wish to undertake internships and it is crucial that the Liberal Democrats, and our Parliamentarians, do all we can to make sure that the internships we offer are as open as possible. This is about minimising barriers, one of which is affordability. Some of us have worked in the past as unpaid interns; we know that sometimes people are happy to work for free, or feel they have to in order break into a profession.

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Opinion: Internships – a foot in the door, with a new glass ceiling

Nick Clegg has admitted that his previous pledge to pay interns working for the Party will be broken. And yet, one of the defining ambitions of the Liberal Democrats, found in the Foreword to The Coalition Agreement, is to increase social mobility. Having experience from six unpaid internships, social mobility is one area that I highlight for supporting the Party. Yet it’s in danger of becoming part of Newspeak: for without money to back up the rhetoric, our Party is in danger of yet again offering an empty promise.

Social mobility and paid internships are connected. But I’m concerned …

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

In other news… Michael Brown extradited, unpaid party internships, Jo Swinson for cabinet? & other stories

Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past few days…

Lib Dem donor Michael Brown to be extradited to UK (BBC News)

Convicted fraudster and former Lib Dem donor Michael Brown is facing a hearing in Spain for extradition to the UK. He was flown to Madrid on Saturday to be handed to UK officials after being arrested in the Dominican Republic. In 2008 Brown, who had gone on the run to the Dominican Republic from the UK, was jailed in his absence for seven years for stealing £36m from clients after posing

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Opinion: What do the Lib Dems and the Big Society have in common?

Being a student, I am lucky enough to have very flexible working hours, and I’ve put these to good use this autumn helping with Brian Paddick’s campaign to become the first Lib Dem Mayor of London.

Something I’ve noticed with creeping inevitability about the campaign is the similarities between myself and the other people turning up on Fridays – the vast majority of whom are male and pale like me.

This is symptomatic of a wider problem with volunteer organisations in general, and cuts to the heart of a political philosophical gulf between us and the tories: volunteers are people in a position to volunteer.

While conservatives were perfectly at …

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Fashion industry faces intern crackdown

Good to see Nick Clegg’s push to sort out internships reaching another industry. After public relations, now it is the turn of the fashion industry to face the spotlight, as Vogue reports:

HMRC has warned fashion labels against exploiting their interns and treating them as employees – but without pay. The organisation sent cautionary letters to 102 fashion houses that exhibited during London Fashion Week in September, who they have not named…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today showed his support for the HMRC’s announcement.

“I strongly urge fashion houses and designer labels to make sure they are treating interns fairly,” Clegg us

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Opinion: Forcing payment for internships could actually reduce opportunities

There has been plenty of talk recently about the unfairness of Westminster internships and calls for all internships in Parliament and in political parties to be paid. I understand the good intentions behind this argument but am concerned about the effects this could actually have on opportunities.

There are two issues being discussed around internships and it’s important not to get them confused. The first is the issue of informal internships – Daddy getting you an exclusive internship because he plays golf with somebody influential.

This is what Nick Clegg is talking about when he says that “it should be what …

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Opinion: No political party should accept internships

Nick Clegg has launched a national internship scheme to increase social mobility, end inbuilt disadvantage and conform with the minimum wage.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has been criticised this week by a leading national campaign, Graduate Fog, for recruiting unpaid interns.

The climate is changing – and yet seemingly not in our own house. I (and presumably some of the Lib Dem Voice readership) have applied for Lib Dem internships, and there seems to be no concerted effort to clean up our party in this regard. I am white and middle-class and was only able to apply for internships over …

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34 PR agencies agree to internship pledge

A quick update to my previous post about the campaign, backed by Nick Clegg, to get PR agencies to pay interns at least the national minimum wage:

Thirty Four Agencies Sign Up To PRCA Pledge To Pay Minimum Wage To Interns
But of the ten biggest UK agencies – according to the PRWeek Top 150 Consultancies table – only Edelman and MHP had signed up. (PR Week)

Declaration of interest – MHP Communications is my own place of work.

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Nick Clegg backs campaign to ensure PR industry interns are paid

PR Week reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind a campaign being launched this week by PRWeek and the PRCA to end the practice of unpaid internships.

To launch the campaign, the PRCA will today take the step of placing a list on its website of all PRCA member agencies who commit to paying at least the National Minimum Wage to interns.

The list, researched in June, includes just 21 out of 264 member agencies – a mere one in 13. Among the handful of big agencies committed to paying up are Cohn & Wolfe and MHP

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Jo Swinson MP urges applications for Speaker’s internships scheme

Jo Swinson MP has joined a cross-party group of MPs to launch an internship scheme which will open Parliament’s doors to young people of all backgrounds.

Jo launched the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme last week, along with Labour and Conservative MPs Hazel Blears and Eric Ollerenshaw.

In a bid to make Parliament more inclusive and open, the scheme hopes to attract 12 young people from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds, who’ll be given the opportunity to complete a paid internship in Parliament. They will begin their placements after conference season this autumn.

Jo said:

I am delighted this scheme has now been launched and

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Chris Fox writes – Internships: a small step in the right direction

The Liberal Democrats’ Chief Executive, Chris Fox, has written this post in reply to yesterday’s piece by Gus Baker from the Intern Aware campaign.

At a recent meeting of all party staff, the majority of people said they had begun their career as an intern. It was testament to dedication and commitment, but also proved that internships give people unrivalled access and experience of one of the country’s most highly competitive careers.
 
There is no denying that internships in both business and politics have for a long time hindered social mobility, promoting the culture of contacts over ability and often only benefiting those people wealthy enough to live without a wage. The use of interns, which on occasion, quite frankly borders on exploitation, has given rise to a culture that Westminster is only open to the rich and well-connected.
 
The Liberal Democrats do not have clean hands. As a party with very limited resources, but very dedicated supporters, we have too often taken advantage of ever-willing interns. We know this is not sustainable.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Opinion: Cease this injustice

I was outraged to find out yesterday in my copy of The Times that the University of Edinburgh, my alma mater, has been selling off internships with Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) for an eye-popping £5,750.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly would love the opportunity to undertake such work, but at such a price I cannot. This is disadvantage defined, as those who can afford it can have such an educating experience.

The internship involves completing “three academic courses which are classroom based, followed by a research project supervised by a member of the Scottish Parliament and an …

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Opinion: End unpaid internships with MPs? Sure – just show us the money

There has been no little discussion in recent days about the cosy world of unpaid internships. Nick Clegg has rightly drawn attention to their increasingly powerful status as a barrier to social mobility. Of course, organisations such as Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous have long been making the same point.

But the almost universal response to this truth – that unpaid internships are wrong, and should be ended forthwith – actually raises more questions than it answers. What people really mean when they say internships should ‘end’ is that interns should be ‘paid’. This is because everyone recognises …

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A curio from the world of government information leaflets

Take a read through Parent Motivators: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Graudates Find Work, as published by BIS under Peter Mandelson’s reign, and you find this advice on page 3 for parents wanting to help their children:

Identify who you know that might be able to help. If they want to work in architecture, travel, etc. is there a friend of a friend who may be able to help set up some work experience or job shadowing?

Ah yes, getting an internship through parental contacts. I’m sure I heard somewhere a Labour politician praising Nick Clegg’s parents for doing just what …

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Interning for MPs: exploitation or experience?

Donal MacIntyre and Hannah Barnes have reported on MPs’ interns for BBC Radio 5 live:

MPs could be breaking the law by not paying their parliamentary interns. Hundreds of young graduates are putting in thousands of hours of unpaid work at Westminster. This practice is excluding many young people without independent financial support from a route that many see as the first step on the ladder to a political career. But, this is not just a question of pushing the bounds of fairness. Minimum wage regulations require that some of these interns should be paid.”

You can listen to the podcast of last Sunday’s show “Parliament’s unpaid workers” here.

Among Liberal Democrat MPs, practices vary: Phil Willis and Alistair Carmichael pay their interns the national minimum wage while others pay only travel and lunch expenses.

I spoke to Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, who puts his interns on a contract as part-time researchers:

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Outstanding Liberal Democrat Campaigner of the Year

Campaigning is an all year round slog and most intensive for the staff and full-time campaigners who do this every day, every week. In that context many of you will have fond memories of Cllr Neil Trafford, Federal Campaigns Officer for the north west of England. Neil tragically died in an accident last year, but a group of us have used that sad occasion to institute a new award within the party.

This award will be for the outstanding member of campaigns staff – be they employed by a Local Party, constituency, MP, MSP, AM, MEP or indeed the federal …

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