There’s been a bit of debate recently on BBC etc on ‘Intern Abuse’. The discussion seems to focus on a) Job-hunting university leavers being warned against paying for services to help get them internships and b) Companies not paying their interns.
The BBC didn’t get round to publishing our feedback so here it is:
We operate on the basis of a ‘Freemium’ model where users can create profiles and search for opportunities for FREE but pay a one-off £10 membership fee which gives them a number of membership benefits (discounts, access to events etc) as well as the ability to identify the names of companies and make applications. In our view this does not constitute anything more than a very reasonable admin fee. Without some form of hurdle like this, companies would be inundated with speculative applications – one of the issues we seek to address. As it is, we find that there is a correlation between the quality (or relevance) of profiles/applications and those that are prepared to pay to join the network.
With advertising rates low, we have had to find ways to make our business model work – we are not yet profitable! To increase supply, companies can post opportunities for free on WEXO but pay us to help them find the right people.
With regard to unpaid internships, we encourage our companies to pay their graduate interns at least the national minimum wage (as legally required and as we have done ourselves) but we do not enforce it. This is a grey area though. I understand that a lot of the internships available on the Graduate Talent Pool are unpaid and that there are unpaid interns at both the BBC and in parliament! Exploitation is wrong but ultimately I would argue that market economics should dictate and if someone wants to work for free to gain valuable experience then they should be allowed to. We are however lobbying the government to subsidise paid internships to encourage companies to offer them.