Training could boost career chancesBusinesses that take the time to offer successful training to their interns could be helping such individuals develop the skills they will need for the rest of their career, it has been claimed.

However, Lisette Howlett, spokesperson for, said if a business is taking "ad hoc" interns from their local college rather than giving a permanent job to a more qualified individual then it is unlikely either party will benefit.

"The argument by some interns that this is institutionalised cheap labour […] can be pretty well countered by the argument that in actual fact they are getting structured training, development and work experience," she added.

When interns are specifically placed at a firm by their college or university, their time there is more likely to be monitored, which could help to stamp out any unscrupulous employers using such workers as a form of reduced labour, she claimed.

Her comments come after Paul Sellers of the Trades Union Congress told the BBC that some employers were simply "ripping people off" when they offered internships and may also be unaware of minimum wage legislation.