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The End Of The ‘Who You Know, Not What You Know’ Culture

The issue of banning unpaid internships has surfaced again after Nick Clegg states that the current government does not see a reason why this policy should ever go ahead.

Critics claim that a failure to ban such internships does not comply with laws concerning the minimum wage.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has stated that unpaid internships are perfectly acceptable and that making them illegal would further encourage nepotism. Clegg goes on to argue that banning the advertisement of such internships would create a “black market”, where those selected would be chosen by their connections and not on merit. Clegg claims that this would lead to a “who you know, not what you know culture”.

Statistics gathered by the National Union of Students (NUS) show that 73% of people between 18 and 24 believe that internships are needed experience when applying for a job, whereas 43% stated that unpaid internships hindered their path towards getting a paid job.

The University of Nottingham (UON) was unavailable for comment on the issue but their website explains to students the difference between paid and unpaid internships and the issues that they should consider when applying.

The University does also offer a Work Experience Grant of up to £500 for both paid and unpaid internships and might be an alternative way to finance an unpaid internship.

Emma Pearce

Image: Chatham House

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