A recent article on Recruiter detailed a company which coordinates arrangements for interns to pay employers a fee of up to £200 a day for work experience. Within the article, paying for an internship, which offers the possibility of future employment after, is illustrated as an attractive alternative to the years of debt graduates face after university.
In some ways I can see the comparison; many attend university as a way to develop the skills and knowledge they hope will benefit their career progression in the future. For those who do not attend, the financial costs may simply outweigh any perceived benefit. They might be willing to pay for work experience instead, which is another way of gaining such skills and knowledge, to support their standing in an ever competitive labour market.
However, I personally feel that there is no comparison between paying for work experience and paying for a university education. And should paying for work experience become widespread, it could cause many potential issues.
Students can take out loans to cover the cost of going to university; loans which carry a low-interest rate and a fair repayment scheme. As the article does not mention how interns pay for the work experience, I assume it is paid straight away. This is the biggest difference I see, and I feel this could contribute to inequality.
If companies were to charge £200 for a day of work experience, there would be many potential employees who would miss out. Those in the lower-income bracket would be cut off from obtaining work experience that could lead to a job.
I also struggle to see why a company would want to restrict their talent pool of applicants to only those who can afford to pay for a day’s work experience. The article highlights that with a financial transaction in place, individuals are motivated to make the most of their work experience.
It seems as though in the company’s mind, coughing up the cash indicates motivation. I tend to disagree. I could be a highly motivated individual with the ability to do a really great job however, if there was no way of funding my work experience, the company would lose out on a potentially highly valuable candidate out of their talent pool. This is without considering the negative impact such an experience may have on my view (and those in a similar position) of the company. Or the potential long-term harm it could do to the company’s ability to hire in the future.
Overall I personally feel it is a step too far, especially in today’s current climate, to allow employers to make money out of job seekers’ desires to find work. What do you think?