According to the survey, a large majority of employers did not give a particular reason of why they could not pay their interns, prompting 64,7% of the respondents to rely on funding from their parents. From the survey results, it becomes clear what employers are banking on. Taking out a loan of 4000 EUR for a 6-month unpaid internship deters those applicants whose parents cannot finance them. Employers thereby ensure that applicants will come from a wealthy background and preferably received a high degree of informal education via their personal environment.
From a recent Twitter exchange with the World Development Movement, a small development NGO based in the UK, I gathered two things:
- WDM refuses to pay its interns despite +£139,217 in last year's accounts
- When I confronted them, they pointed to the small size of their organization and more importantly to the fact that "we only recruit internally, thus giving interns a much stronger chance of employment with WDM" and that "if we had to pay wages to interns, it would be unlikely that we could offer an internship programme".
WDM is only one of the examples for insufficient treatment of interns and for bleak inconsiderateness about the world's future qualified labor pool. There are many more.
In cooperation with MEP Emilie Turunen and other partners, the Youth Forum is elaborating a Quality Charter for Internships at the request of the European Parliament. It will be non-binding, but if there is a clear measuring rod, interns have a document to which they can point when they demand their rights in future.