Don’t use students as slave labour

5 03 2009

No to the National Internship Scheme

Skills and Universities Secretary John Denham announced in January plans to introduce a National Internship Scheme, which, according to the New Labour government, is designed to provide jobless graduates with up to three months paid work.

 By Ciaran Gallagher, Socialist Society Queens University Belfast

The scheme will involve giving companies who take part up to £2,500 of public money for each intern. So far, only Microsoft and Barclays have agreed to take part in the scheme, which is due to start this summer. But critics have pointed out that Barclays and Microsoft already offer internships to students and graduates, without state payments.

The scheme will just result in Barclays and Microsoft being paid an additional £2,500 each time they hire an intern. There is also no obligation on these companies to pay interns a salary, which amounts to slave labour-type conditions for graduates in need of work and experience. 70% of last year’s graduates are not in work related to their degree.

The Socialist Society in Queens University and University of Ulster is fighting for a guaranteed job at the end of degrees that is relevant to their course. For example, 75% of newly qualified teachers can’t get a full-time position in Northern Ireland, despite government figures showing the pupil-teacher ratio increasing to 20.8 children per teacher in 2007. The National Internship Scheme is not going to solve these problems. It just means more public money for big business and slave labour for young people.

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