An end to unpaid internships?

Monday, May 16th, 2011 @ 1:10PM

My first experience of the Scottish Parliament was back in 2004 when I secured an unpaid internship working for a Labour MSP. I had graduated the previous summer and had been desperately trying to find graduate employment with no success.

There’s no doubt that the three month spell I had working for that MSP helped me get my first job as a Campaigns Adviser for Edinburgh University Student’s Association. They were looking for someone with a working knowledge of the Scottish Parliament and how to influence it. Suddenly I was in a position to demonstrate first-hand experience of it and so I got the job.

I remain extremely grateful for that opportunity – but I’m also acutely aware of how many young people may never get that chance, simply because they can’t afford to work for free.

That’s why today I have tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for a living wage for Parliamentary interns serving one month or more.

I’ve met dozens of young people who would love the chance to experience the Scottish Parliament but simply can’t afford to take unpaid work to get ahead.

If MSPs are truly committed to building a more equal and fair society then they must lead by example and break down the barriers which deprive so many people of an equal chance.

The motion, copied in below, has also gained the support of Intern Aware whose Co-Director Ben Lyons said:

“Unpaid internships restrict opportunity to the wealthy. Our democracy is being deprived of thousands of hard-working, talented young people who can’t afford to work for free. MSPs owe it to their young constituents to put tough talk on social mobility into action and support this motion.”

 Why not email your MSP now and ask them to sign the motion?

S4M-00024 Kezia Dugdale () (Scottish Labour): That the Parliament considers that interns make a valuable contribution to the workings of the Parliament; recognises, however, that unpaid positions are accessible only to those who can afford to work for free; believes that the Parliament must lead the way to a more equal and fair society by breaking down barriers, and hopes that MSPs resolve to pay their interns serving one month or more a living wage of £7.15 an hour.

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