PR Week reports very welcome news from Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg regarding the problems caused by unpaid internships:
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind a campaign being launched this week by PRWeek and the PRCA [one of the PR industry trade bodies] to end the practice of unpaid internships.
To launch the campaign, the PRCA will today take the step of placing a list on its website of all PRCA member agencies who commit to paying at least the National Minimum Wage to interns.
The list, researched in June, includes just 21 out of 264 member agencies – a mere one in 13. Among the handful of big agencies committed to paying up are Cohn & Wolfe and MHP Communications.
Declaration of interest – MHP Communications is my own place of work.
Treating interns properly in the PR industry is particularly important because it is also one of the industries where a high proportion of jobs are filled through means which do not start with placing a public job ad. That means that knowing who to contact and who to talk to gives you a particular advantage in job hunting and so the contacts you make as an intern can multiple in their benefits quite dramatically through a career.
Treating interns well – both in paying them and making their internship a genuine opportunity rather than an excuse for cheap labour – has an important part to play in making those benefits available to people based on their ability.