Saturday 16 February 2013

When did working for nothing become acceptable?

I was glad to hear this week that university graduate Cait Reilly was successful in her legal claim against the government's back-to-work scheme.

This is the scheme where job seekers are required to undertake some forms of unpaid work in order to continue receiving benefits.

Reilly claimed she was forced to work for free at Poundland as part of the scheme. This prevented her from continuing with the voluntary work she was already doing at a museum.

Unsurprisingly the Geology student thought her Poundland placement was a waste of time that did not help her find a full time job.

The Court of Appeal found that the government scheme was unlawful and now people who lost out on benefits because they didn't take part in the scheme could be entitled to a rebate.

What's interested me about this story is the government's response and the argument that unemployed people should be made to work for free in order to help them gain relevant work skills and experiences to help them longterm.

It's another example of the growing belief, that if you want to gain relevant skills and experience you have do it for free.

When did this become an acceptable employment model?

You only have to look at the rise of internships which I hate. Many of the creative and media industries subscribe to the internship model.

I wouldn't have a problem if internships lasted a few weeks. Many of them don't and go on for months. Unless 'bank of Mommy and Daddy' are there to bail their kids out - how are young people meant to survive?

This working for free idea needs to be stopped. we need to start paying people to do work that's available.

I'm so glad I'm not in my early 20s. As a 30 something I appreciate how lucky I am/was.

Your 20 something has been told to study hard, go to university; get a good job, graduate with thousands of pounds worth of debt. When they finish they discover there's no jobs out there and if they want experience they have to work for free!

For me it's exploitative and devalues the nature of work. If there's work that needs doing than at least pay people to do it.

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