The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
Unpaid interns on the dole. Is morale at risk?
A new scheme announced last week by John Denham, Minister for Innovation, Universities and Skills, whereby unemployed graduates who take unpaid internships may continue to claim jobseeker’s allowance may be a step in the right direction for the government’s job creation plans. But are we in danger of neglecting the individual’s morale?
Internships ought to be paid. Ministers must not underestimate the positive, energising effect that a wage has on an individual. Being paid a wage, even a small internship wage (potentially no more than the £150 per week that most unemployed people receive via job seeker’s allowance plus housing benefit), can do wonders for an individual’s self-esteem.
A more valued, confident workforce is surely a more productive workforce. It is the basis of entrepreneurialism and it must surely be a building block of national economic recovery.
The government ought to recognise that there is a world of difference between, on one hand, rewarding somebody directly for their work and, on the other, simply giving them dole money in return for them working for free.
The government would do well to heed the words of New Deal pioneer Harry Hopkins: ‘give a man a dole and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save his body and his spirit”.