Today Ed Miliband will launch Labour’s manifesto for young people. We’ll report on the whole manifesto later.

One of its central commitments is to put an end to unpaid internships – which only the richest can afford, and which are keeping so many young people out of the most sought-after careers.

We’re delighted – and so is our candidate, Alex Sobel – who’s already pledged, if elected, to pay all his staff not just the minimum, but the Living Wage, and put them on proper minimum hours contracts.

Alex speaking at LUU - with Liam Byrne
Alex speaking at LUU – with Liam Byrne

Ed Miliband will today (Friday) declare 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 will commit the next Labour 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 will say 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 will say 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 Sutton Trust estimates that there are around 22,000 unpaid interns in the UK, and that 31% of internships taken on by university graduates do not pay a wage. Many places that offer unpaid internships do so illegally, and this policy would aim to clear up confusion between what is and is not a worker by ensuring interns get at least the minimum wage after a month.
The policy will not affect those who volunteer for charities and non-profits, or those working on university placement schemes.

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:
· 62 per cent of businesses say it would make no difference to the number of interns they recruit.
· 10 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.

Ed Miliband will say:
“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.”

Ben Lyons, co-founder of Intern Aware, hailed the pledge:
“This pledge would make a real difference to thousands of young people entering the job market. The current chasm between twenty somethings who can afford to work for months on end for free and those who can’t is bad for social mobility, bad for business and bad for Britain.

“Businesses are crying out for clarity on internships and the four week limit offers that – as well as vastly increasing the pool of talent they can draw on. We hope this pledge is the start of a change in the political weather around getting young people into work.”

Alex Sobel – who is passionately concerned about ALL workers’ rights – agrees.
As he said last December
‘ This is something on which I feel very strongly. I am determined to work for Decent Jobs and better conditions.
I have already committed myself to work for the Living Wage for all, if elected.
Now here’s a very personal pledge.
If elected as an MP, I commit to employ all staff, whether interns or not, on minimum hour contracts and at the living wage level set by the Living Wage Foundation.’

If you agree with our policies, help us to secure a Labour government on May 7 – and support the campaign for Alex Sobel to win here in Leeds NW – sign up now.

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One thought on “Labour’s plan to end unpaid internships: Alex Sobel welcomes it – he got here first!

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