UK paperback

Education

is an important key, yes

The Economist isn’t impressed with Intern Nation, or any general worries about the increasing practice of making young people (at least those who can afford it) work for free, in times of sharply increasing youth unemployment.

But forcing employers to provide pay and benefits and comply with lots of red tape is surely the quickest way to put them off, thereby depriving young people of an early experience of the future of work.

The future of work is… unpaid?

After all, what are those serial interns doing but learning about serial mastery?

They are being trained to compose Schoenbergian string quartets? Excellent!

But the best part comes last:

Many people are outrageously exploited at work, but interns are not among them. After all, they are getting a free education, something that few universities provide these days.

Thus is the ideal of education shrunk in the philistine mind of the market fanatic to something like “induction into the low-grade activities of a specific job, several times”. And young people are getting this for free from the humanitarian philanthropists at companies that offer internships.1 After meditating a while on this happy news about what education now means, I deduce courageously that we should immediately close down all the universities. After all, they are expensive, and can be teaching nothing but sophistry and illusion.

  1. They’re not actually getting it “free”, of course, once you take into account the opportunity cost of working for no pay.
5 comments
  1. 1  Stan  September 15, 2011, 11:55 am 

    Calling it education is an interesting choice. What reasonable job seeker, after all, would turn down the offer of specialist education — and with pocket money to boot! With a little imagination you can spin just about any experience as educational.

    The Irish government recently set up an internship scheme called JobBridge that has come in for increasing protest and ridicule on account of some of the jobs offered. (See for example the name-and-shame Tumblr.)

  2. 2  adam  September 15, 2011, 2:42 pm 

    It’s about context too – there’s nothing necessarily wrong with an unpaid internship as a part of a further or higher education course, or necessarily as a training requirement if it’s a short term thing. What’s wrong is just replacing paid positions with unpaid positions. The Economist’s argument -forcing employers to provide pay and benefits and comply with lots of red tape is surely the quickest way to put them off, thereby depriving young people of an early experience of the future of work – is utter shash.

  3. 3  Jeff Strabone  September 16, 2011, 7:01 am 

    The drive to rely on interns is another way that the modern workplace favours the rich, for who can afford to work for free but people who do not need to work?

  4. 4  ejh  September 18, 2011, 2:40 pm 

    Do you think the Economist actually believes that, or is it just indulging in the sort of contrarianism that rightwingers seemed to have lived off for about the last four decades?

  5. 5  Seán  September 21, 2011, 7:14 pm 

    This one is jaw-dropping. The Labour Party(who created the scheme) looking for free, full-time labour to commemorate their centenary.

    http://intern.jobbridge.ie/Def.....CqYD4G146b

    A centenary/celebration of.. wiping out labour protection?



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