Friday, December 10, 2010

Make internships in creative industries more accessible to the less well off, says UK report

Informal recruitment through word-of-mouth and social networks is one of the key reasons why young people from affluent families get ahead in creative industries such as publishing, according to a study released by the UK think tank Social Market Foundation.
In other words, to get your foot on the rungs of the ladder in design, publishing, architecture and advertising, it's not what you know so much as who you know. It's opportunity, rather than ability that is unevenly distributed, says Alan Milburn, who contributed a chapter to the study, which is entitled Disconnected: Social mobility and the creative industries. The report is available as a downloadable pdf.
The report says that networking is much more important than internships, which are out of reach of the less affluent, who can't afford to support their living costs while working unpaid.
Rather than focussing so much on phasing out unpaid internships (which, as readers of this blog will know are endemic in the magazine industry in Canada), the report recommends a concentration on ensuring that such opportunities are extended beyond the better off, giving opportunity to the widest possible range of young people.
In the introduction to the report, Milburn says:
Action is needed on several fronts. The creative industries could take a lead, for example, on internships. They have become a new rung on the professional ladder but they need to be brought out of the informal economy where they are at present and made far more widely accessible. The industry could establish a new Code of Practice to make internships more transparent, a new website to openly advertise them and a kitemark to recognise best practice.
Making a professional career open to the widest pool of talent is not about social engineering or dumbing down. It is about making current access routes fairer and ensuring that those young people who succeed in gaining a top job do so based on talent and merit alone.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ling Ling said...

Last Christmas holiday, I spent most of my time hunting online for internships anywhere in fashion. The creative industry is definitely the hardest and most competitive to get into.

I understand if everyone would like to be "hush, hush" about internship offerings. It is baffling to find or even know of any internships.

f ashioncont a gious

7:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it's not so much about whether internships are paid or unpaid (let's face it, if internships had to be paid, we'd lose about 75% of them overnight), but rather, getting your foot in the door.

So much of this industry is about who you know. I come from a working class background and I can count on one hand the number of similar juniors I've come across.

I think if we had people from more backgrounds, we'd also hear a lot less whining and whinging about pay rates etc. This industry pays fine and I'm so tired of hearing about how shitty pay rates (for freelancers or paid staff) are. If you compare it to your lawyer and doctor confreres etc, sure.

I'm also tired of the bourgeois-liberal perspective on everything. Would love to hear more from those, like myself, who can balance their J-school lessons with a hard knocks education and time spent working in the real trenches.

Good luck to all tomorrow's interns from less illustrious means. This industry needs you.

6:23 pm  

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