Since the recession began, there has been an explosion in the popularity of unpaid internships. A company will take on a graduate for a number of months, getting them to do all the toilet scrubbing jobs that they can’t afford to actually pay someone to do. In return said graduate gains a variable amount of work experience in the field they are actually interested inbeing employed in. Graduates are often lured in by the prospect of bolstering their CVs, whilst often receiving ambiguous hints from the company that they might be offered a permanent position… perhaps. It’s essentially the same thing as making a donkey walk by dangling a carrot in front of its nose.
This practice (the internship thing, not the donkey thing) is not only illegal1 but, moreover, there usually just isn’t a job at the end of the process. Instead, the company will employ another intern to replace you. They call this a “rolling internship” and it seems to be the done thing nowadays in the UK.
The main issue is that the government are highly unlikely to change things, mainly because this practice is probably the only way that many small businesses and start-ups are staying afloat at the moment. Economists might say that this is a “good thing”, but how is unemployment ever going to get any better when paid positions are substituted for unpaid ones? Young workers are being exploited and something needs to be done.