Named as the 'Internships Capital', London sees the biggest percentage of unpaid internship opportunities.
Internships are sought by students all over the country either during their university time as a sandwich year placement or upon graduating, when many graduates look to explore the field they have completed their degree in via graduate internships. A way to gain experience within their chosen field, internships provide hands on and insightful experiences to many, similarity to that of an apprenticeship.
Many companies offer paid internships, covering costs of living and travel regardless of location. However, whilst London has been named as the ‘Internships Capital’ it has been revealed that this declaration sees London as the capital for unpaid internships.
According to the campaign group InternAward, research shows that 81% of unpaid internships are with law firms in London, whilst PR internships account for 61% of unpaid opportunities. Furthermore, their research highlighted that the vast majority of internships are located in London, the Sutton Trust fund added to this stating “interns are out of pocked by £1,000 a month while trying to financial support themselves.”
Today MP’s will hold their first debate on the issue. Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke commented:
- “If Theresa May is committed to her promise of helping ‘not just the privileged few’ she will back legislation to outlaw the practice of unpaid internships… it is costing a young person £926 a month to do these internships and 40% are turning them down because they cannot afford to do them.”
On this matter, CEO Jenny Holloway commented:
- “It is disappointing to read about the exploitation of interns. We have had three interns, Rebekah Litherland, Freddie Anderson and Amiee Kelly and in all cases we have paid for the placement and not only that but we have them employed them as well with specific areas of quite large responsibilities. We under value the worth of interns – they are the bright sparks of tomorrow and we need to cultivate and motivate them now in business to be tomorrow’s business leaders.”
Editor JoJo Iles added:
- "The fashion industry is notorious for unpaid internships and whilst I am not knocking real hands-on experience as a way to build industry insight and to enhance a individuals CV - there does come a point when it becomes unethical. I have heard many horror stories about interns working all hours and being treated unfavourably while simultaneously trying to survive in an expensive city. I am not totally anti internships as they provide valuable experience however I am against fashion brands using a consistent uptake of interns filling what should be an employees position. My advice is to find out as much as possible at the interview; what will be expected, what are the hours, will there be any lunch / travel expenses etc? And then weigh these factors up against your career plan. Of course there are alternatives and if you fit the right age bracket apprenticeships are a brilliant way of gaining that hands-on experience whilst getting paid, it's not much pay but it's something, apprentices also have a higher rate of landing a job after."
Marketing Assistant Rebekah, who is currently completing a 9-month placement with us commented:
- “As a fashion student completing a 4-year sandwich degree course, I know first-hand the importance of gaining experience in a live environment via internships and placements. When initially applying for roles last year, the number of unpaid internships seemed to be rising. Whilst many of these unpaid internships would be beneficial to complete, it is unrealistic for a student to move to London and fund themselves financially. People my age are now wanting to be more financially independent rather than reliant on student finance and asking parents for money, and so many will turn down or choose not to apply for these vacancies regardless of the long term benefits they have. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity FashionCapital have provided me with, I am learning a lot and gaining a large amount of hands on experience that I will be able to use in my future as well gaining invaluable insight into the many roles the fashion, manufacturing and textiles industry has to offer – something I may not necessarily have gained if I had chosen not to conduct a placement year.”
Aimee Kelly, London College of Fashion Student, completed her summer internship with our production team and she is now working as assistant production manager here. She added:
- “Without completing an internship I would not have the experience and knowledge that I now do. Not only has this led me to being offered a part time role here, but it is also given me insight and sparked ideas for writing my final year dissertation.”
Omni-channel sales manager Freddie commented:
- “I am Fashion Enter’s Omni Channel Sales Manager and it’s such a great challenge for me, but because I worked here before for three months I have settled in quickly and I am loving my new job and responsibilities. It is hard to get your foot on the ladder at work and it’s totally demoralising when you leave university with a good degree and you just can’t get a real opportunity for a kick start in your career. It’s easy to just accept that you have to pay for yourself to gain experience at a company but it’s wrong. It really is exploitation. Thank you Fashion Enter for giving me such a real business opportunity that I will make work."