The fashion and media empire Vice has proudly claimed that its unpaid “work experience” placements are “extremely successful” at helping young people into work – the proof being that “many of our full-time staff started here on work experience placements”. And no, they don’t seem to have figured out what’s wrong with that statement.
Apparently, the UK’s best and brightest hipsters are unable to connect the dots and see the problem with confirming a sequential link between a long periods of unpaid work followed by a paid role. Despite advertising a “work experience – sales administrator” role only last week, a spokesperson insisted Vice is a “champion” of providing opportunities for young people keen to break into media. Yeah, sure – as long as they can afford to work for months unpaid in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Last week – as part of our Shame intern Scrooges campaign – we passed an advert for a Vice Media ‘sale administrator – work experience’ role (no joke) to HM Revenue and Customs to investigate.
Despite the role title (“work experience” usually suggests an unpaid position), the advert stated:
“You will assist with delivering reports, supporting sales and business development with general account management, responding and building media responses and executing creative mock-ups.”
Hm. We asked Vice for an explanation but they never responded. But the story took a surprising twist yesterday, when the Guardian’s legendary media blogger Roy Greenslade published our investigation on his blog. Within hours, Vice had made a statement defending their actions, which Greenslade added to the end of his post. The Vice statement said:
“Vice work experiences comply with both the law and Intern Aware’s guidelines. Our work experience model is extremely successful – many of our full-time staff started here on work experience placements.
“As a champion of providing opportunities for young people working in media, Vice is always striving to improve further, and recently Vice has implemented an exclusively paid internship programme.
“Unpaid work experience or internships are no longer offered at Vice’s HQ in New York, and the policy will be rolled out globally in 2014.”
Graduate Fog remains unclear about Vice’s position – and the logic of their argument. Yes Vice, we know that unpaid work can be helpful in securing a paid role in future – but the point is that this is deeply unfair as it effectively locks out poorer candidates.
There are also many young people who work unpaid and do not then manage to secure paid work, despite their experience. Unpaid internships exploit those who do them and exclude those who can’t afford to do them. They are no kind of ‘system’ at all. Increasingly, they only people who they work for are greedy employers – who continue to grab something for nothing, just because they can.
We also remain confused about this mysterious role. Vice, can you please tell us exactly what a “Work experience – sales administrator” is?
*WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF VICE’S RESPONSE?
Do you understand what they’re saying? And, if so, can you please explain it to us? Please type your comment below – thank you!