This is just a short post about a critical part of a paper on the legal status of interns I'm currently reworking for publication. Previously, I've written about how universities are a key actor in perpetuating the exploitative and precarious nature of unpaid internships. The dynamics of the interplay between students, universities and employers are beginning to become clearer as more attention is paid to this issue. Unpaid internships are becoming an increasingly critical part of the youth labour market amid a deteriorating hiring outlook and given the difficulty that students are having transitioning from school into the workforce.
In December, Internsheep posted a response from York University to an inquiry about why York's Career Centre was advertising illegal internships. York's (non)response essentially passed the buck back to Ontario's Ministry of Labour and the Canadian Association of Career Education and Employers. This confirms that the practice at Canadian post-secondary institutions of pushing students into situations where they are forced to provide unpaid labour to employers.
Going stateside, the Village Voice has published an excellent article exploring the linkages between unpaid internships and universities. Last year when it appeared the U.S. Department of Labor might actually start enforcing the provisions relating to internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a group of thirteen university presidents wrote a letter asking the government not to enforce the law. In the United States, unpaid internships are a major source of revenue for universities which make students pay tuitions while they're providing unpaid labour to employers - pretty insidious.