joblessgrads200Less than 1% (1,835) of UK graduates are known to be working in unpaid internships six months after leaving university, reports the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU)

At the National Association of Student Employment Services Conference in Birmingham, Charlie Ball, HECSU’s deputy director of research, provides insight to the destinations of the 2011/12 graduating cohort with new analysis of the latest Destination of Leavers of Higher Education data. He reports:

• 1,560 (0.6%) first degree graduates and 235 (0.5%) Masters graduates from 2011/12 reported that they were working as unpaid interns six months after graduation
• Two thirds of all unpaid interns are in the South East, London alone accounts for 60%
• Hardly any graduates were in unpaid internships in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East. Less than 6% of all unpaid interns worked in those regions combined.
• Industries where unpaid interns were most common included design, publishing and media, and advertising, design and PR
• Unpaid interns are more likely to be women (63%)

Charlie Ball says: “For the first time this data gives us hard evidence of the nature and extent of unpaid internship for new graduates. Ideally we would like to see this figure as low as possible with everybody who is classed as a worker paid fairly.

“Of course this survey is a snapshot, relying on graduates reporting that they were unpaid as an intern. It also doesn’t cover everyone who may have, at any time, worked in unpaid internships as well as those working for free as volunteers or with charitable organisations, but who often with different requirements and motivations. What’s clear is that there remain many industries that still have a job to do in terms of cleaning up their employment practices.”