Students deterred from applying for internships and work experience

Concerns about unpaid labour and lack of local opportunities are putting off students and graduates seeking internships and summer placements, according to a poll by the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE).

The survey of 1,165 students and graduates revealed that 82% are not aware of any schemes in their own region and three out of four (74%) are turned off applying for placements this summer because of fears they would have to work unpaid amid rising levels of student debt.

Heather Collier, director of the NCWE, said: “Graduates desperately need some work experience to add to their CV to make them a better prospect for employers, and with rising levels of unemployment this is vital. Work experience continues to be valuable, whether it is paid or not. Ultimately it is down to individuals to decide what their boundaries are to ensure they are not exploited.”

In response to the poll, the NCWE is working with university careers advisers and employers to help promote schemes available through its Find Me a Student! initiative.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development last year published a guide for employers that are looking to create and implement an internship. It covers areas such as recruitment, payment and duration, treatment, supervision, reference and feedback.

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