Ed Miliband today declared that Labour will ensure the best career opportunities should be open to people of all backgrounds by ending the scandal of unpaid internships which only the richest can afford.
In a speech in Lincoln to unveil Labour’s Manifesto for Young People, A Better Future for Young People, he committed the next government to legislation banning companies from offering unpaid work experience for more than four weeks and forcing them to pay such young working people at least the minimum wage.
He stated that unpaid internships are increasingly making some of the most sought-after jobs out of reach for many young people who cannot afford to work for nothing during long internships.
Mr Miliband stated that this is not only unfair on those who do not have access to money from their parents but is also damaging Britain itself because it is denying our country and our businesses the chance to benefit from the talents of all young people.
The announcement coincides with new YouGov polling data released by Intern Aware showing that Labour’s four week legal limit would not lead to a reduction in internships in the South East:
• 58 per cent of businesses in the South East say it would make no difference to the number of interns they recruit.
• 14 per cent say it would make them more likely to hire interns; 10 per cent say it would make them less likely to hire interns.
Publication of Labour’s manifesto follows an unprecedented consultation involving thousands of young people through the Shape Your Future campaign.
Other measures announced today included:
• Reducing graduate and national debt, by cutting tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 and increasing student maintenance grants by £400.
• Guaranteeing high quality apprenticeships for all school-leavers that get the grades.
• Making work pay by banning exploitative zero-hours contracts, and raising the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 by October 2019.
• Investing in the jobs of the future and showing our commitment to climate change by making Britain a world leader in low carbon technology over the next decade, creating a million more green jobs.
• Ensuring no young person is left behind, by guaranteeing a paid starter job with training to all those unemployed for more than a year.
• Tackling rising housing costs, by building more homes, helping first time buyers and legislating for longer and more affordable tenancies in the private rented sector.
• Strengthening the voice of young people by giving 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote.
Commenting on Labour’s plan to end the scandal of lengthy unpaid internships, Mr Miliband said:
“In this country, if you want a good job in a highly prized sector, you’re often asked to work for free, often for months on end, sometimes even a year.
“It’s a system that’s rigged in favour of those who can afford it.
“Putting careers in highly prized jobs – in the arts, media, fashion, finance and law – out of reach for huge numbers of highly able young people.
“It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it prevents our companies drawing on all the talents our nation has to offer.
“So we’ll put a stop to it. We’ll end the scandal of unpaid internships.
“So today I can announce, with a Labour government if you do work experience for more than four weeks, you’ll get at least the minimum wage, opening up the professions and extending opportunity for all.”
Commenting on the announcement, Labour Candidate for Reading West, Victoria Groulef, said:
“Today’s announcement shows that Britain can do better for young people under a Labour government. It will put an end to the scandal of unpaid internships.
“As a self-made business woman, I believe that paying interns is not only the right thing to do, but it is also good for business. Today’s new figures show that 73 per cent of businesses in the South East believe that it’s right to pay their interns, and 72 per cent are just as likely or even more likely to employ an intern under Labour’s proposal.
“The time has come to end a system that favours only those that can afford it and prevents our companies accessing all the talent in this country. A Labour government will ensure that internships are rewarded fairly and that businesses and young people can prosper alike in Reading and the rest of the UK”
Mr Miliband also heralded a better future for young people:
“Today we’re here to say: Britain can be better than this for young people. And we can do this, because we know a simple truth:
“Britain’s future depends on the energy and creativity of its young people. All your ambition, all your dreams. It is our duty to support every single one of you to be the best they can be.
“Over the last five years, I’ve been talking about the Promise of Britain. The promise that says the next generation will do better than the one that came before it.
“It’s a promise that this country was built on. But it’s a promise that for your generation has been broken.
“With this government, it is young people more than any others that have been made to carry the burden of hard times.
“Facing a future of growing debt, of increasingly insecure work, a home of your own just a distant dream for so many.
“That’s not the future you believe in, that’s not the future I believe in, that’s not the future the next Labour government will build.
“So we have a better plan for education, for jobs, for housing, and for the character of our country.”