Creative & Cultural Skills has proposed that a code of practice on graduate placements in the creative industries be introduced, in a bid to end the practice of unpaid internships.
The call comes after the organisation urged employers in the sector to do more to make it accessible to young people, by providing better information and guidance on finding work (www.designweek. co.uk, 21 August).
C&CS also believes that it is up to employers to stamp out the practice of unpaid internships, which have been singled out as a factor in making the creative industries difficult to break into.
Tom Bewick, chief executive of C&CS, says, ‘It’s the culture of recruitment that needs to change, not the law.’
Catherine Large, external relations director for C&CS, adds, ‘Obviously, it is very hard to come down on employers who are just trying to run a business. They will obviously ask, “Why should I pay interns when there are people queuing up to work for free?”
What we propose is that there should be a code of practice for employers to follow, which could cover issues such as providing internships for a decent length of time, and paying people as much as possible.’
Large says this code should be formed by employers or trade bodies working together to tackle the issue.
D&AD, in its remit as an educational charity, already has a series of guidelines for running graduate placement schemes. Laura Woodroffe, D&AD director of education and professional development, says she wants the organisation to disseminate this information more effectively to consultancies, students and tutors.
Woodroffe says, ‘My personal view is that unpaid internships are a problem – they’re obviously not right.’ She adds, ‘We don’t want to police consultancies on this issue, but we do want to offer advice and guidance.’
The D&AD guidelines, which are currently being reviewed, set out criteria such as the minimum and maximum lengths of time internships should run for, and the minimum amounts graduates should be paid.
Woodroffe says, ‘There can be a bit of a generation gap with this issue. Most people who run consultancies now took unpaid internships when they were graduates and say, “We did this and we were grateful for it.” But they didn’t have to pay for their education then and didn’t graduate with thousands of pounds of debt.’
INTERNS’ EXPERIENCE OF PLACEMENTS:
- Graduates and students rated making contacts, networking and ‘real-world feedback’ as the most important benefits
- When asked to describe a good placement, ‘live briefs’ and ‘good feedback’ were the aspects most cited
- When asked to describe a bad placement, too much time spent ‘making the tea’ seemed to be the biggest complaint
Research by D&AD and Wunderman