A proper meritocratic society would offer everyone the opportunity to secure the most coveted jobs in their field regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexuality and, of course, class. This would simultaneously promote social mobility and ensure that the most capable candidates are able enhance their chosen profession.
Already there are thousands of unpaid interns struggling to make ends meet, and even more who are turned away from professions not because of their skills, but because of their economic background. If we want our workforce to be a reflection of society instead of inequality then we need to widen access to internships, improve their quality, and make sure they are paid.
While unpaid internships certainly present a big problem for socially mobile students, it would be wrong to dismiss the benefits that internships can provide; internships are a mutually beneficial exercise, especially when the employer makes them meaningful, and the intern learns and develops their skills (not in tea-making for varying tastes, of course).
UK Music is launching an Internship Code of Practice because we are committed to helping skilled and dedicated young people find a job in a music business. We also want to ensure a fairer workplace for budding music industry professionals. Offering paid internships is one way to ensure those entering the industry have an equal chance of developing their skills irrespective of their circumstance.
People were friendly and joked around, no one snapped at colleagues or interns, everyone said 'please' and 'thank you'. I was given articles to write and each of them was published on the website, with my byline. The online editor would take time to go through each article with me, explaining what I did right and what I could improve on, as well as teaching me how to use the CMS, Google Analytics etc.
No workers should have to settle for a race to the bottom, whether it's in terms of rights, pay or working conditions. But this is exactly what is happening when our generation cries discrimination over six-month internships that pay nothing; we are expected to take this because in the long-run it will pay for itself.
The UK is a massively ageing population, and whilst I am not advocating letting grannies freeze to death, there does need to be a redistribution of money from somewhere towards providing young people with opportunities. Young people are ultimately the future drivers of an economy and we should be investing in their future, whilst attempting to diversify our economy.
I wake up at 6.15am to take the train to work (commuting from mum and dad's, the intern's lot) and most days I wake up before the alarm goes off, buzzing for a new day. This is a pretty strange feeling, I must admit, but it's bloody brilliant. So, like I said, don't take this opportunity away from me - it's my only chance to get on the career ladder.
Without internships, you can kiss goodbye to gaining critical experience; wave farewell to school credit; bid adieu to making friends, those future stars of fashion; and pretty much forget about getting your name in print. Everybody starts out as an intern; it's a rite of passage. And, the longer you can stick it out as one, the greater the chance of ultimately getting a job..
It's difficult to think of a greater embodiment of wealthy people being able to purchase advantage for their offspring and puts me in mind of an excellent Simpsons scene where Montgomery Burns attempts to buy a place at his alma mater for his son, who is so stupid that Yale set the price of entry as being 'an international airport'.