More than 70% reported that they had secured some form of work experience while they were at university, often by taking on casual paid work. Others engaged in unpaid voluntary work or secured an internship. Of the internships undertaken by graduates, 43% were not paid.
Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects, said: “Despite the hype around unpaid work experience placements over the last few years, we can see from the study that a huge proportion of interns still have to work for free.
“I have recently been involved in creating the first code of best practice for high quality internships endorsed and supported by the government. It clearly states that companies offering a placement of six weeks or more should pay the national minimum wage to an intern if they are contributing to a company, have a list of duties and are working set hours.”
The study also reported that while graduates recognise the value of work experience – stating that it presented opportunities to try out jobs, develop skills and build confidence – many felt more could be done by universities and employers to promote and organise internships.