Due to the trend of unpaid internships becoming mainstream, as ‘credit points added towards your degree is equivalent for payslips’, gaining experience has become a privilege to richer individuals. For the ‘less well-off’ students, internships have become a dream, where the option is not feasible for their financial status. With no pay, there is no income, a necessity for their daily living costs, paying for the rent, and even their university fees. Internships have become only feasible for those who live at home or have stable financial support from their family.
The ripple effect of more well-off students being able to gain a head start when they graduate expands into the future of the labour market of Australia. The disparity in the ability to gain experience as an intern due to the difference in socio-economic status is inequality, and we must fight back.
Young Australians need quality experience and a fair go, not exploitation of their skills, time, or intelligence. Unpaid internships require education or need to have a structure of a training course where students gain real-world experience, networking opportunities, increase foundational skills for their future career.
By Soo Young Han