Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Thursday, February 22, 2018 10:51:17 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

The intern generation needs transparency at work

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Bryn Watkins :
It is best to do this now, because a growing movement of young workers is harnessing transparency to bring change to the office. From Paris to Prague, Belgrade to Brussels, the interns are shining a light in the dark corners of our ever more atomised job market.
First things first, they are right to be frustrated. With over three million unpaid interns per year, equivalent to the entire workforce of Denmark, Europe faces an explosion of exploitation. As an increasingly vital step into many professions, internships have become an important sector of the labour maker - but they are often a semi-legal black hole, sitting outside the social contract and undermining it at the same time. Employers get away with dodgy practices, while the authorities turn a blind eye.
Unpaid internships are the clearest offence: they exclude talented candidates from joining competitive sectors simply on the basis of their family wealth. The practice is especially rife in Brussels. A recent survey from the European Parliament's Youth Intergroup found that 1 in 10 MEP interns are not paid at all. The Commission has hundreds of unpaid trainees every year. NGOs stretch the legal definition of volunteerships to its limit, in order to avoid paying junior policy and advocacy staff. Such hypocrisy from bodies that claim to fight for justice is a recipe for elites that are divorced from their diverse societies. In the long run no one wins that game.
Pay gets a lot of attention, but there are other abuses. Too many menial tasks, poor supervision, illegal contracts and workplace harassment all prevent an intern doing the two things they really need to: work and learn. And let's make no mistake, both work and learning are vital to a good internship. These are workers, who should be paid and respected, but they are also learners, who should be supported to develop the professional skills they need to flourish in the economy.
When it goes well, a quality internship brings talent and enthusiasm to the employer, with training and experience for the intern. It also creates the independent adult workers of tomorrow. Good employers already know this, and should be praised for what they do. But the thing is, we know all that. The moral and economic argument against unpaid and poor quality internships has been won. Public support for unpaid internships has become increasingly rare - even if Marianne Thyssen, the Commissioner responsible for the social pillar, has little problem with unpaid interns in her own institution. What we need now is real change at the level of every employer.
Exploitative and useless internships need to stop, and quality needs to be the new standard. To achieve this, governments need to make and implement better rules, and young people need to break the silence on what is really happening.
The information gap is a real issue. It can be difficult for young people to share their employment experiences, especially if they are illegal or abusive. The power difference is huge, and people worry about burning bridges in the sector where they hope to make their career. Moreover, it is difficult for others to find that information - sharing stories only helps if someone else reads them.
A new digital platform aims to close the gap. Transparency at Work, which launched just yesterday, is an anonymous rating system for young people's employment experiences: not just internships, but also early jobs, apprenticeships, training schemes, etc. Questions include how well you were supervised, whether you were paid, and how much your tasks supported your learning.
Designed by social entrepreneurs InternsGoPro and the European Youth Forum, Transparency at Work will collect and display ratings on any website where the EU-funded "widget" has been embedded. That means that young people will see and interact with the system while browsing job listings, looking at student union announcements or reading the news.
It will give them a sense of what really happens in the workplace, while highlighting the best and worst employers. There are partners across Europe and the team is aiming big: they want 100 000 ratings in the next 3 years. Transparency needs to be widespread if you want to change cultures, and data needs to be big to offer a meaningful snapshot of the market. Closing the information gap between employers and jobseekers is just one aim. The data collected will reveal the scale of the problem and offer human stories of the exploitation young workers face. That might encourage policymakers and authorities to give the quality of youth employment the attention it deserves - because the issue is often not that laws are bad, but that they are ignored.
Here in Belgium for example, unpaid internships for graduates are already illegal, and there are strict rules on volunteering and student placements. However, the justpay! campaign revealed numerous advertised internships whose legality was questionable. But most internships are never advertised, and Belgian authorities rarely inspect the EU affairs sector. Perhaps a bit of transparency and data about the scale of the problem will encourage Philippe de Becker, Minister for the Fight Against Social Fraud, to add the Eurobubble to his list of priorities?
After years of crisis and liberalisation, the youth employment market has become detached from the wider economy. This stifles opportunity, increases inequality and wastes talent. However, on International Interns Day young workers do not call for artificial job creation or an easy life. They just want honesty, fairness and legality as they find their way in the workplace. Now go make that coffee, it will get you a better rating.
(Bryn Watkins is Managing Member at Brussels Interns NGO).

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Ekushey tells us to be free and fearless against injustice

THE Nation celebrates 'Amar Ekushey' today with due solemnity and colourful festivities to remember the Martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement. It is a landmark occasion and a day of awakening in the history of Bengali people that gave us the clear realization that we have our own language and ...

Cricket »

Captain of Bangladesh National Cricket (ODI) team Mashrafe Bin Mortaza handing over a crest of honour to Hafiz Yasin Arafat at the Bashundhara International Convention Centre in the city recently. Yasin Arafat became Hafiz-e-Quran in 86 days. He was a student of Tanjimul Ummah Hifz Madrasah of Cox's Bazar. Ahlul Huffaz Foundation Bangladesh arranged the reception programme.

Sports »

Medalists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating (from left) : Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, of France (silver), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada (gold) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States (bronze) pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Tuesday.

International »

Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys

US President Donald Trump signaled support Monday for improving background gun checks amid mounting pressure for reform in the wake of the Florida school shooting, as the accused gunman appeared in court.Nikolas Cruz, charged with killing 17 people, sat silently with his head bowed during a procedural hearing in Fort ...

International »

Nepal wants to deepen ties with China: K P Oli

PTI, Kathmandu : Nepal's new Prime Minister K P Oli has said he wants to deepen ties with China to explore more options and get more leverage in his dealings with India "in keeping with the times". Mr Oli, widely regarded as pro-China, also said he wants to "update" relations with ...

Business & Economy »

M Fakhrul Alam, Managing Director of ONE Bank Limited and Rezaul Islam, General Manager of Bangladesh Bank sign a participatory agreement regarding use of JICA assisted Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project fund recently. Governor Fazle Kabir, Deputy Governor Abu Hena Moh. Razi Hasan, Executive Director Ahmed Jamal of Bangladesh Bank, chief representatives of JICA Bangladesh office Takatoshi Nishikata and among other were also present on the occasion.

Entertainment »

Inspired by the journey of Deepika and Anushka: Nidhhi Agerwal

Nidhhi Agerwal who hails from Bangalore and is living independently in Mumbai currently believes Deepika and Anushka's journey to the top has inspired her a lot. Just like the other two Bollywood divas, Nidhhi also went through her part of the struggle to make it to Bollywood. The young actress ...

City »

Law enforcers intercepted women leaders and activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal when they were going to visit BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia with fruits at Old Dhaka Central Jail on Tuesday.

Sports »

Medalists in the women's 12.5-kilometer mass start biathlon (from right) Belarus' Darya Domracheva (silver), Slovakia's Anastasiya Kuzmina (gold) and Norway's Tiril Eckhoff (bronze) pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Sunday.

Entertainment »

I am very excited about working with Akshay Kumar: Parineeti

Parineeti Chopra, who will be sharing screen space for the first time with Akshay Kumar, says she is excited to work with the superstar in Kesari.The film, being directed by Anurag Singh, will see Akshay essaying the role of Havildar Ishar Singh, while Parineeti plays his wife."(I) am very excited ...

Editorial »

We welcome UK`s removal of ban on direct air cargo

THE UK government has fully withdrawn the two-year-long ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London ending the plight of exporters, particularly garment exporters who were facing difficulty to make emergency shipment of samples and other cargo to buyers within the stipulated time. The British government said it is ...

City »

Buyers flip through the books at a stall of Amar Ekushey Book Fair on Bangla Academy premises in the city on Monday.

International »

Syrian forces to back YPG` in fight against Turkey

Al Jazeera News :The Kurdish YPG fighters claim they have reached a deal to allow Syrian government troops to enter Afrin in the northwestern part of the border town.Nuri Mahmoud, a spokesman for the People's Protection Units (YPG), told Al Jazeera on Monday that they are calling on the Syrian ...

Editorial »

Cleansing operation to stop leakage of question

QUESTION leakage during the ongoing SSC examination showed that the government has no power and the Education Ministry has no control over the corrupt people handling the question papers. So far questions of all 10 tests were openly available around the examination centers in Dhaka city and other places from ...

Sports »

Simidele Adeagbo of Nigeria reacts in the finish area after the final run of the women's skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Saturday.

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news