Employment Seminar Series

Internships, Employability and the Search for Decent Work Experience

EMPLOYMENT Seminar #36

Internships have become an integral part of the school-to-work transition. Although originating in high-income countries, they are becoming more common in low- and middle-income countries as well. But concerns have been expressed regarding the ability of internships to provide an effective bridge between education and (paid) work. In the wake of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008, the ILO Resolution ‘The Youth Employment Crisis: A Call for Action’ noted that ‘internships, apprenticeships, and other work experience schemes have increased as ways to obtain decent work. However, such mechanisms can run the risk, in some cases, of being used as a way of obtaining cheap labour or replacing existing workers’. A decade on, the world is facing a new economic crisis, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic which has further added to the challenges faced by young people seeking to obtain and retain decent work Against that background, the need to resolve issues surrounding the design and regulation of internship programmes has become all the more urgent.

In June 2021, the ILO and Edward Elgar published an edited volume on internships in all their forms. Featuring important new research from established and emerging scholars working in a range of disciplines, the book discusses the extent to which countries around the world are meeting the challenge of ensuring decent work for interns, and what they might do to ensure that internships play a constructive role in the increasingly complex and lengthy process young people face in their transitions from education to employment.

Objective of the seminar
The purpose of the seminar is to present the main findings of the book and to discuss the impacts of internships on young people and how they might best be regulated in order to play a constructive role in their working future.

Niall O’Higgins (ILO), Internships and Employability
Anne Hewitt (University of Adelaide), Internships, Education and Welfare
Andrew Stewart (University of Adelaide), Regulating for Decent Work Experience

Deidre McCann (University of Durham), Jenny Ng (Fair Internship Initiative), Paul Comyn (ILO)