Laura Whitcombe

The government should recognise that interns are jobseekers

The government should recognise that interns are jobseekers
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Here's an idea to improve social mobility, in the wake of Alan Milburn's damning report a couple of weeks ago: why not allow young people taking unpaid internships to claim benefits?  

Right now, people are only entitled to Jobseekers' Allowance provided they are out of full-time education and if they work less that 16 hours on average a week.  Any more than that, and they're deemed not to be "actively seeking" paid work - so they don't qualify for the cash.  

But what about a young person working full-time and for free at some investment bank, in the hope of one day securing a fully paid job?  It's hard to imagine how anyone could be more actively seeking paid work, but the rules currently say that they're not. It's a completely counterintuitive set-up.  

If the professions are to be anything other than a closed shop, then offering to support to interns who don't have the luxury of financial support from their family is surely a no-brainer.