Promoting productive internships – the Internship Charter

CIPD logoThe Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is Europe’s largest HR and development professional body. As an internationally recognised brand with over 135,000 members across 120 countries, they support and develop those responsible for the management and development of people within organisations.

The CIPD have come up with an “Internship Charter” – a voluntary code of practice which companies are encouraged to adhere to. The charter aims to make internships, fairer, more accessible and more productive, as well as leading to a more regulated format, in which companies have guidelines, and interns are helped in choosing the best schemes.

Why a Charter?

Interestingly, the CIPD feel that the most important factor with internships is the quality of the experience for the intern. It goes on to suggest that the long term advantages of a quality internship can offset any short term economic costs.

Much of the problem has been in quantifying the long term advantage to an intern – something which is not necessarily the same for any two interns (even in the same job).

In recent years the debate over paid and unpaid interns has grown louder and louder. This, it is hinted at, is partly due to companies using internships merely as a way of getting cheap labour. The CIPD have attempted to deal with the root of the issue by looking at the quality of internships themselves. If all organisations in the UK provide quality internships, and the long advantage to the intern’s career is plain to see, the debate would not be taking place as vociferously as it is now.

The Charter

It deals with six principles:

1. Recruitment

It should be an open process – as similar to recruiting a regular member of staff, and the advert should be as clear as possible. Especially with regards to potential of getting a contract at the end of the internship

2. Induction

An intern should receive a proper induction and all efforts should be made to make them feel as an integrated member of the team.

3. Supervision

The intern should effectively have a manager who supervises, and conducts reviews, provides feedback and mentoring.

4. Treatment

An intern should be treated exactly the same as a regular employee, and should even receive extra allowances (time to attend job interviews etc)

5. Payment and Duration

As a minimum interns should receive all work related expenses. All relevant legislation should be adhered to.

6. Certification / reference and feedback

Interns should receive either a certificate or a letter of reference on completion of the internship, with a formal performance review on completion of the scheme. An exit interview should also be carried out.

The CIPD recognises that this is only a limited measure to ensuring that internships are fair, and provide a long term advantage to the intern’s career. It is at least a start.

For more information about the charter click here or contact us directly.

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