Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Paid Internships Supporting Social Mobility

Paul Brown
12.04.2017 Published: 12.04.17, Modified: 12.04.2017 00:04:00

Guest Blog from Alec Shelbrooke MP

Unpaid internships restrict social mobility and diversity in the workplace as they aide only young people from wealthier backgrounds who can afford to work for free. I’ve made it my mission to do something about this and it’s my belief that the Government should legislate to ban the practice of unpaid internships.

When I visited the FDM Leeds academy last week, I was pleased to hear that the Company’s COO, Sheila Flavell, feels just as strongly as I do about this practice, in fact I was impressed to hear from Sheila about the number of paid internship opportunities FDM offers.

In a YouGov poll of 18-24 year olds, 43% said that unpaid internships acted as a major barrier to getting a job. According to The Social Mobility Commission, half of recruiters say that graduates who have no previous work experience have little chance of receiving a job offer. The Commission also found that a third of new entrants are recruited from internship programmes. This means that entry to the workplace is severely restricted for many young people in the UK for whom working for free is simply not an option.

When I first started work in engineering, I took whatever work I could to get experience and move up the ladder. This would not have been possible without pay and I feel strongly that the right of pay for young people should be defended.

From summer internships to year-long placements, I was impressed by the variety of paid options that FDM offers students looking to gain experience in the industry.

I welcome how much value the company places on its interns and how strongly it feels about them being properly remunerated. As Sheila told me, interns deliver real, valuable work for the benefit of the Company and its clients so FDM believes that they should therefore be paid for the services they provide.

FDM’s approach to internships reflects its wider approach to diversity recruitment and commitment to recruiting from the widest possible talent pool regardless of socio-economic position.

On my visit, I learnt how 79% of UK graduates employed in 2015 attended a state school and a third were the first in their family to go to university.

At a time when so many companies are struggling to fill digital skills vacancies, it is vital to unlock the potential of students from all backgrounds. A narrow recruitment focus means companies may be missing the best talent so making internship programmes accessible to all, as FDM do, sets a great example to other employers.

 Are you interested in training for a career in IT or business intelligence? You can do so on our award-winning Internship Programme.

Updated 12 April, 2017