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Fair Trade Internships

Public World's Ethics and Interns report

Report of Fair Trade Internships workshop

Guardian article on interns in charities

Guardian article on interns in social enterprises

International Labour Organisation view of fair internships

Intern Aware, the British campaign

UN interns campaign Hague Interns Association


Public World worked with the Hub Kings Cross to answer the question: What would a Fair Trade Internship look like?

Voluntary donation of time and effort is the lifeblood of charities, and few social enterprises would get anywhere without plenty of unpaid work by their founders.

But internships are something else. Charities that justify not paying entry level recruits by calling them volunteers, or start-ups that pretend their unpaid staff are entrepreneurs like them, will find there is a growing gap between ethical business and their own practice.

On 11 April 2013 we held a workshop at the Hub Kings Cross to thrash out some of the challenges and obstacles, and to create solutions. We heard from:

  • Antony Mason of the Intergenerational Foundation on how unpaid internships are excaberating the injustices they are trying to tackle
  • Tanya de Grunwald of GraduateFog on how failing to pay young people entering the charity sector is affecting the sector's social composition
  • Adam Ramsay of People and Planet, whose paid internship scheme is a model in the third sector and shows what can be done
  • Marcus Mason of Creative Employment, which is supporting businesses in the cultural sector which want to give young people fair training opportunities
  • Markus Gnirck of Hub Kings Cross on opportunities for graduates and school leavers in Germany, where vocational training is taken more seriously

Then we broke into groups to tackle these questions:

1. What are the differences between employment and volunteering?
2. If an intern agrees not to be paid, why should an employer pay them?
3. What should an intern expect to get from an internship?
4. How can internships ensure equality of opportunity?

The workshop was facilitated by Public World's managing director Brendan Martin and Sarah Cook of the YMCA's oneKX centre, which is supporting the Fair Trade Internships project -- as are Red M Marketing and Paul Minett, who works with Big Issue. Thanks to them and all our presenters.

You can download a report of the workshop, and our earlier Ethics and Interns report. There are also two articles for The Guardian by our MD Brendan Martin, about interns and social enterprises and interns and interns and charities. And for further information please contact us on

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