Unpaid Internship is in serious disrepute. Many economists and labour activists believe graduates shouldn’t be allowed to work for free. On the other hand influential people like Stephen Poloz, the Bank of Canada Governor, advocates that it’s not a bad idea for young people to do them. He says an unpaid internship is a valid way to avoid the “scarring” of long-term joblessness, especially among the Generation Y cohort.
In most cases, unpaid internships are in fact illegal in Canada. There are some exceptions however. Federal government departments and agencies have employed up to 1,000 unpaid interns since 2008, for example. In the United States the rules around intern compensation can be a bit more confusing. Nearly half the internships in America are completely unpaid. Currently Obama can employ hundreds of unpaid White House interns, even if he publicly advocates for higher minimum wage lol. Of course non-profit and charity organizations are allowed a free pass as can classify their unpaid interns as “volunteers.” 🙂
In 1947 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a railway company was justified in not paying its trainees during a 7 day training period before beginning their paid employment. The training was “for their own advantage,” the Court concluded. More recently, the Department of Labour has come up with 6 conditions that firms must meet in order to offer legal unpaid internships.
The youth unemployment rate (people under 25 years old) in Canada is nearly double that of the national average. I can see how companies can take advantage of unpaid interns. Working for free is not ideal because we need human labour to have value. But I can also understand how young people who are desperate for work experience would jump on any opportunity for free industry exposure, on-site experience, and at least something rather than nothing on their resumes. 🙂
Golly. I don’t know whether or not unpaid internships should be allowed. But it appears most policy makers and denizens of the internet say they’re not fond of the idea. 😕
Random Useless Fact: