An epidemic of unpaid labour—Ed Cumming reviews Intern Nation for the Telegraph

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Ed Cumming reviews Intern Nation for the Telegraph, calling the book "well-researched and timely." Describing how work experience and internship culture has recently become politicised in Britain, Cumming suggests that both Britain and the United States are

[S]uffering an epidemic of unpaid labour. With graduates more abundant than ever, and graduate jobs ever scarcer, it has become near compulsory for young people entering the labour market to suffer a period of working for low pay or, often, for none at all...

Parliament is accused of “jaw-dropping hypocrisy” about its army of free workers, estimated to provide 18,000 hours of free labour per week...

Intern Nation contains plenty of lessons for Britain. It was interesting to note that Germany and Switzerland, both of which have recovered faster than Britain from the recession, have lower rates of internship and higher rates of traditional apprenticeship.

In this country, where immigrant labour fills skilled vocational roles - in engineering, plumbing, IT, and so on - there is a growing queue of graduates who feel entitled to a certain sort of white-collar "knowledge" job in a certain sort of office.

As long as this supply so outstrips demand, it will continue to exert a downward pressure on pay. It will - fairly - be the least able graduates who suffer, and also - less fairly - the poorest.

Visit the Telegraph to read the review in full.

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