Is Unpaid Work Building a Wall Around the Creative Industries?

07/12/2012 11:39 GMT | Updated 05/02/2013 10:12 GMT

Its been a hot topic for some time now, how the creative industries are taking advantage of new graduates who are looking to get their foot on the career ladder. Many of us would have heard the debate about the fashion industry and how it was exploiting workers by offering them unpaid internships to help them gain experience.

However many of these interns have spoken out about how they were treated badly and made to work nearly every hour that was available, and all this for no pay. Many have spoken out about how this is wrong, but it isn't just the fashion industry that's doing it, many others are too.

For those who want to work in television, radio, PR or as journalists, they all have to undergo the same routine. For many recent graduates out there wanting to forge a career in their chosen industry doing this type of unpaid work, in some cases for up to 12 months, just isn't practical as it's just not financially viable.

To start most of the jobs in the creative industries are located in London, and as we all know the cost of living in London is pretty much unaffordable to most. Many taking part in these internship are also working part time jobs in call centres, restaurants and bars just to get a bit of money behind them, but this type of part time work isn't enough to allow you to live in the capital.

Therefore many young people who are fully qualified to do these types of roles just aren't getting their foot in the door as they either don't live in a commutable area to get to London, or their parents can't afford to foot the bill for them to work unpaid for 12 months. This is therefore preventing many people from entering work that they are qualified for, resulting in them having to take menial jobs. That's if they can get those jobs as many employers are worried that they'll leave as soon as something better comes along, which I wrote about in a previous article.

It's not just the fact that most of these jobs are unpaid, there are even websites offering freelance work that is unpaid with the hope of giving someone experience. But when you apply for any of these types of freelance work or internships the process you have to go through is very long and gruelling, and for the most part you end up with a rejection at the end.

Take freelance writing, many times I have had to undergo the sending of the application form, CV and cover letter, followed by sending some work, which then leads to an interview and a test article and in some cases even a second article, only to be told you didn't get the job as you didn't have enough experience, even though it was an unpaid entry level job. Many people endure this on a daily basis.

I've seen many job adverts from companies that say they cannot yet afford to pay people and this is why there is the offer of unpaid work. Although this looks like a way of hiring a number of people to do all the hard work in order to avoid paying someone by saying it's an internship. Now not all places are like this but you'd be surprised how many job adverts actually say this.

It only seems to be the creative industries that are getting away with this too, because lets face it, someone who has just qualified as a nurse wouldn't be asked to rush around a hospital and help save lives for no pay for 12 months, all in the name of experience. I know that student nurses train throughout the three years they are at University, but so do those who aspire to work in the creative industries, otherwise what is the point of spending the best part of £20,000 to earn a degree for that specific job?

As this issue is rife within the creative industries, and many people have already weighed in on the issue surrounding the fashion world it looks as though it's about time the remainder of the creative industries were looked at; before a generation of graduates fall to the sides as they just didn't live close enough, or have parents able to pay for them to get their foot in the door.