I believe that naming-and-shaming is valuable – and there have been more adverts for part-time unpaid internships for qualified, skilled, experienced workers and full-time unpaid internships for economically-insecure workers – but we also need to organise and act as a labour movement.
Part-time unpaid internships for qualified, skilled, experienced workers
The Newham New Deal Partnership (NDP) Ltd is a ‘Not For Profit organisation set up by West Ham and Plaistow NDC [New Deal for Communities] to continue providing community benefit to the NDC area and beyond’, ironically/insultingly named after a publicly-funded programme that provided paid work with social security.
It appears to have a paid Chief Executive, a paid Facilities and Finance Manager, two paid Community Development Workers and one unpaid Community Development Worker (Volunteer). Its Project Curators include its Chief Executive and its volunteer Cultural Development Worker, and eight other people (who appear to be volunteers as well).
Ignoring the intangible qualities (‘a passion for engaging local communities’) and the merely “desirable” ones (knowledge of and interest in women’s history, First World War history, industrial history, etc.), Newham NDP’s vacancy for
- an Assistant Heritage Worker ‘is an exciting opportunity for an appropriately qualified self-starter…. [who has] administrative/exhibition and/or event organising experience, [and] good IT skills’ to ‘research and develop an exhibition / activities for children and adults’;
- a Heritage Worker (WWI) ‘is an exciting opportunity for a self-starter who has an appropriate graduate qualification and event organising experience, as well as good administrative and IT skills, [and] an attention to detail‘ to ‘plan and organise our schedule of events and activities’;
- an Exhibitions and Programming Assistant ‘is an exciting opportunity for someone with an appropriate academic qualification [‘an Arts/Arts Management graduate’] and some relevant experience’ to ‘[p]repar[e] and realis[e] all aspects of arts programming’, ‘deliver and organise community outreach and engagement’, draft ‘marketing material and small fundraising applications’, etc.; and
- a Curator (Visual Arts) ‘is an exciting opportunity for someone with an appropriate postgraduate qualification and curatorial experience’ to ‘take forward and build its 2014 programme of exhibitions and related workshops and events’.
All of them are ‘at least two days a week… for 6 months’. None of them is paid.
Even if these opportunities for exploitation would require their candidates to work seven days a week in order to support themselves (if they could find one or more jobs where they worked part of the week and all weekend, then work for six months without one day’s rest), and even if they would ultimately be working for below-minimum wage (as they would be earning five days’ wages for seven days’ work), at least, theoretically speaking, poor interns could do these internships without going into debt. But other internships don’t even allow for that…
Full-time unpaid internships for economically-insecure workers?
Meanwhile, Vivacity (Peterborough Culture and Leisure) would like to “employ” a Heritage and Libraries Marketing Intern. The internship really is an opportunity for someone who has not had access to education, training or employment. And, as a charity, under certain circumstances, Vivacity is able to employ unpaid voluntary workers.
But their intern will do real work: four or five days a week, for at least six months, they will write correspondence, write articles and press releases, coordinate publications, organise and participate in events, contribute to their website and social media… It is an apprenticeship at best, trainee work at least. They should be paid.
Moreover, their ideal candidate would be at the very start of their working life; they would not be economically-secure; they would not have savings to consume or fall back on; and (as ever needs repeating) if they took the job, they would lose any social support. How would their ideal candidate, a striving youth hungry for an opportunity, do such work when they would be literally hungry? (They would not even get lunch expenses.)
Naming-and-shaming, organising and acting
Such naming-and-shaming does have some value, at least in demonstrating the scale and depth of the problem and contributing to awareness-raising. However, awareness-raising is one of those vague-yet-compulsory activities for NGOs; it is (only) talking publicly. We need to organise, coordinate and act, alongside unions as a labour movement. And we need to generate hard data for arguments for policy reform. And I need to go. More ranting anon.