Westminster School, who charge fees of up to £31,350 per year, have taken a less than sensitive approach to the growing problem of unpaid internships. Whilst many companies have employed the super-savvy money saving technique of just not paying perfectly qualified people for their labour, the prestigious public school have jumped on this bandwagon and fallen off the other side.
A school auction site has been set up, aiming to raise money to cover expenses for the school's fancy new sports centre, and a "larger and better Purcell's boarding house with an additional small chapel and dining room." And what are they auctioning to support their much needed small chapels and sports centres? Unpaid internships.
What students from Westminster School have in common, according to the school's Headmaster, Dr Spurr, "is that they emerge from Westminster articulate, confident, with a strong sense of social responsibility, ready for university and the wider world."
I wonder where this "strong sense of social responsibility" comes from. I wouldn't say that Westminster School are particularly advertising their "strong sense of social responsibility" when they auction the joyous opportunity that unpaid tea making at a private equity firm provides for a tidy £500. (Price at time of writing...there is still six days, 22 hours remaining)
In case you hadn't noticed, this makes me rather mad. There are thousands of young people out there, working unpaid to try and get their foot in the door of their chosen industry. Most of them couldn't afford and therefore didn't get the world-class education that Westminster School no doubt supplies (they have churned out seven prime ministers).
So when a school like Westminster, who charge fees up to £31,350 per year (did I mention this?), auctions work experience opportunities at the likes of Coutts bank and AGC Equity Partners, they are slapping a lot of people in the face with a big wad of posho cash. They are slapping the people who get up every morning and go and work unpaid because they won't give up on their chosen career yet. And they are slapping the people who never had the chance to pursue their chosen career because they have no choice but to earn a living straight out of school or university.
Exciting opportunities for young people are thin on the ground, and when we get to a stage when young people are expected to pay for unpaid internships, we truly have witnessed the death of social mobility.
I myself am extremely fortunate in that my parents are still happy to put up with me living in their house, like some kind of freakishly overgrown child, whilst I obtain the necessary experience to embark on my chosen career. It's not ideal to be living at home at my age but I'm definitely not complaining. In fact, my mum ironed my shirt this morning. I think I'll never leave.
Anyway. Most people don't pay up to £31,350 per year for an education, and almost all people wouldn't dream of paying a company to let them work for free. Most people are watching in disbelief as loaded parents pay over £700 for their kids to go and make cups of tea for companies that should know better. Most people are just looking at this little bubble from the outside, like an episode of Made in Chelsea. The auction site describes its items as "can't buy experiences". Oh the irony.
Originally published on www.planetivy.com