Taking a closer look at internships

Taking a closer look at internships

THOUGH physical and verbal abuse of interns here might be rare, other forms of mistreatment are known to exist. These include unreasonable hours, pay reduced or withheld as punishment for infractions, and tasks given that are unrelated to the specified purpose of the internship.

Interns might not be quick to complain if they believe a bad report could be sent to their school by the participating organisation.

Internships are a course requirement and students hope to be employed by the host company. They are supplicants.

So little is known about interactions between host, intern and educational supervisor it must count as a serious flaw of what is increasingly essential work preparation for tertiary students.

Procedures should be instituted to enable interns to report mistreatment without fear of reprisal by workplace supervisors.

A recent case of physical abuse captured on video by an intern, who herself had misgivings about the firm, should prompt stakeholders to take a hard look at how programmes are organised.

It is hard to imagine such extreme misconduct in a training setting. Bullies must worry about assault complaints.

Schools should be auditing participating firms closely to ensure objectives of the programme are being met and also monitor safety and welfare issues, and compliance with labour laws.

Being an integral part of job-fit scoping between industry and higher education, clearer ground rules need to be set and understood by all. There should be a balance of interests.

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