According to a study done in the U.K, a third of university graduates work in unpaid internships. In Kenya, this number is much higher and in fact the issue is getting any kind of internship in the first place.
The average internship is 3 months long or 6 months if you are lucky. For students who may have the option of choosing between a final project and internship, many choose to submit a final project to avoid having to deal with the disappointments associated with unpaid internships.
Rising cost of living, as well as the other obstacles thrown at students in the duration of their internship can give some a rude awakening as they enter the job market. Some professions are less lenient than others with fields of law, marketing, journalism leading the pack with unpaid internships for graduate students.
A new survey conducted by the Trust found that almost seven in 10 people in England believe that unpaid internships are unfair because only those from wealthy families are willing and able to work for a significant period without pay.
With at least 50,000 graduates being churned out of Kenyan universities every year, the level of competition is high with fewer placement positions for the recent graduates. The high deficit between jobs vacancies available and the number of students is alarming.
This significantly affects the ability of individuals from modest backgrounds to access desirable jobs that could improve their social mobility and financial stability. The current minimum wage in Kenya was increased by 14 percent to Sh13, 674 by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 1st.
There is a need to level the field and pay interns the minimum wage at least to help alleviate living costs and cater for some of the expenses interns are faced with.
However, although the situation may sound bleak, many university graduates are moving away from formal employment in a bid to establish their own businesses. This exciting new trend has seen the youth inject fresh ideas into various sectors including the I.T, Business and Fashion sectors.
Although they may experience the ever-present teething problems when setting up a new entity, new businesses have the ability to catapult Africa to the new level and alleviate the current job crisis the continent faces.
However, experience in the job market is invaluable. A basic understanding of organizational dynamics, importance of networking and the value of hardwork has more value than the minimum wage at the end of the month.
So would you take up an unpaid internship?