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Friday, 30 July 2010

Working like a dream!

It’s always nice when things go to plan, but when they go to plan in record time it’s even better!

This afternoon at 2.40pm the lovely people at 10 Yetis posted a job on studentgems and half an hour later it automatically fed through to twitter. One hour later and the job was filled by a highly talented student who said “! I'm a bit of a workaholic and check studentgems for new opportunities probably twice a day. So thanks so much for your brilliant service!”

What a nice way to end the week!

£2.50 an hour – better than nothing, or a continuing rip-off?

The debate continues. Should unpaid internships ever be allowed? At what point does ‘valuable work experience’ become exploitation?

We included a piece in our latest student newsletter about the CIPD proposals to introduce a training wage for interns to try and clarify once and for all what employers obligations are to interns.

The proposed Training Wage of £2.50 an hour - which is the current minimum rate of pay for apprentices - would be introduced to cover all internships and apprentices. Any position that is advertised as an internship would trigger a legal obligation for an employer to pay at least the Training Wage, helping to reduce complexity surrounding the issue of payment for young people and also support better enforcement arrangements.

We asked for feedback from students and graduates and we were not surprised that the response was generally in favour, on the basis that currently so many internships are completely unpaid. Stories from Masters students working unpaid for 9 months made us want to weep.
Our view remains that interns should be paid at least the national minimum wage and will then have the motivation to work hard, contribute and go on to be great ambassadors for the employer. Currently employers are running the risk of bad PR, as can be seen on Graduate Fog, where Tanya de Grunwald is doing such a great job in naming and shaming. Follow her progress on twitter @graduatefog.

So is there ever a case for students to work unpaid? After all, it does look good on their CV... Well maybe there is. Perhaps in addition to legislating on a minimum wage for interns a timeframe could also be incorporated. From the comments and feedback we have had from our students, many acknowledge that unpaid work experience is just an accepted part of the job hunting process. But how long can that be sustained by many students who have already amassed huge debts on their way to graduating?

This would be our suggestion:
Work experience: 2 weeks; can be unpaid, expenses must be covered
Internship: 2 weeks+; should be paid at least national minimum wage

Comments anyone?

Friday, 2 July 2010

3 winners win £10,000 grant each

Back in May we blogged about a national competition run by Microsoft as part of the launch of Internet Explorer 8 Life Academy to help 18 – 25 year olds. It was a chance to explore their future potential and win a £10,000 grant to make their socially responsible idea a reality.

The good news is that the competition saw 268 entrants and the even better news is that 3 winners each scooped £10,000 a piece. They were whittled down to a final 3 by a judging panel including Professor Robert Winston, entrepreneur and lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley, Channel 4 technology journalist Benjamin Cohen and Microsoft Director Leila Martine

The winning ideas are:
Adventurer Explorer Grant
Luke Duggleby, 22 from Bristol, his idea is to bring internet and services that will significantly improve educational needs to a vocational centre in Uganda. You can see Luke’s live pitch here.

Online Venture Explorer Grant
Rowenna Davis, 25 from Southwark, her idea is to provide young people with an online platform to understand their local government and stand for councillors. You can see Rowenna’s live pitch here.

Creativity Explorer Grant
Nick Palfrey, 23 from Plymouth, his idea is to develop learning spaces using simulator or video game technology so that 3D models of proposed schools can be explored by students, teachers and parents with amendments made and sent back to architects. You can see Nick’s live pitch here. There were some very inspirational entries which are well worth watching.