Two-thirds of students undertake some kind of work experience while studying, but almost half of internships are unpaid, reveals a survey by Graduate Prospects.
The annual Real Prospects: Higher Education1 study published today (5 September 2011) asked 22,000 graduates if they gained any work experience while studying for their undergraduate degree. More than 70% reported that they had secured some form of work experience while they were at university, often by taking on casual paid work. Others engaged in unpaid voluntary work or secured an internship. Of the internships undertaken by graduates, 43% were not paid.
Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects says: “Despite the hype around unpaid work experience placements over the last few years, we can see from the study that a huge proportion of interns still have to work for free.
“I have recently been involved in creating the first code of best practice for high quality internships endorsed and supported by the government. It clearly states that companies offering a placement of six weeks or more should pay the National Minimum Wage to an intern if they are contributing to a company, have a list of duties and are working set hours.
The Real Prospects study also reported that while graduates recognise the value of work experience – stating that it presented opportunities to try out jobs, develop skills and build confidence – many felt more could be done by universities and employers to promote and organise internships.
Respondents also felt that students should achieve basic working knowledge of office skills, technology and networking through extra curricular training courses and information sessions while at university to help prepare them for the workplace.