The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has published research that suggests that 78% of 18-34 year olds could not undertake an unpaid internship in London, if it meant living away from home.
Only one in 10 (12%) said they either definitely or probably had the money to fund a internship in those conditions.
Many of the UK’s most sought after student internships are based in the capital, where the cost of living away from the family home is typically north of £1,000 a month.
Unpaid internships in London are something that only those from affluent families can even begin to consider, says the TUC.
Kay Carberry, assistant general secretary of the TUC, calls the competition for unpaid internships in London ‘unfair’ and ‘bad for social mobility’.
‘The NUS says that a fifth of young people have done unpaid internships. But as this polling suggests there are few who can afford to work for nothing or for a pittance for any length of time. Internships are essentially a finishing school for the upper middle class – with exclusive access to key contacts, networks and opportunities in the top professions,’ she says.
We recently asked a legal professional to outline the legal precedents for unpaid internships.