A Loan for all seasons

Chapter 7 of the Milburn report on social mobility is in many ways right on the money. It is a surprisingly non-jargon filled report on internships. It tells us why internships exist, what purpose they serve, describes their flaws and suggests ways in which the system can improve. It tells us about problems, particularly issues of social exclusion, and it provides some practical solutions to these problems.

There is some good stuff about opening internships up to people who didn’t know they existed, couldn’t afford to do one, or didn’t know the right people in the right places.

I like the idea of giving internship schemes marks out of ten or ‘kitemarks’ and I like the idea of Universities providing interns with accommodation to stay in London. But…there was always going to be a but…there is an unhealthy emphasis on loans.

Why is it always loans these days? Lest we forget: we are in diabolical debt. Legendary debtors from Dickens’ novels would never have dreamt of the debt that the UK currently finds itself in. 


Classic debtor Mr Micawber could never imagine how much debt we're in

Classic debtor Mr Micawber could never imagine how much debt we're in

It’s not just the state- most graduates will have taken out a student loan to complete their studies and will have £10,000 or more to pay back when they finish. I know this from personal experience.

Milburn et al seem to confuse a ‘loan’ with ‘sweets’ or ‘fluffy bunnies’ because it seems like there is no connection between a loan and MONEY. A graduate taking out another loan to do an internship will be taking a risk.

The prospective intern will be thinking about how they will pay it off- and whether they will get a job out of it. OK, it’s supposedly only a ‘micro-loan’ to cover a month of living in (most probably) London but it’s still going to add up to around £500-£1000. 

Graduates from affluent families will still have more incentive to intern than those without the money. Loans are money and do not level the playing field. I know it would represent an investment and hopefully the intern would get a job after taking out a loan but this happy outcome is by no means guaranteed.

The report provides alternatives to loans but it still devotes 6 of its ‘recommendations’ to the promotion of loans for individuals (take a look at recommendations 56, 57, 59, 61, 62 and 63 on pages 111-112 of the report). 

I really don’t think that loans, however small their interest payments, should be promoted or mistaken as a solution. We need to be creative about this. Hit me with your ideas- aside from paying interns a wage (the obvious and in my view correct solution) what do you think could be done to make internships more accessible?

3 Responses to “A Loan for all seasons”

  1. 1 Alex 07/28/2009 at 8:12 pm

    Loans and credit are after all the reason we are in such economic turmoil

    The government is addicted to debt. Debts for huge mortgages, debts for students, debt for the economy

    DEBT IS BAD. its horrible. it should always be a last resort… especially for young people with no job at the end of an internship and with thousands of pounds of debt from uni

  2. 2 Kit Friend 08/14/2009 at 4:45 pm

    Loans are a riduculous proposal and thoroughly unjustified. After all, noone is proposing the MPs being to take out loans they’re asked to repay when they finish their term in office… are they?

  1. 1 Government to create National Internship Database « Interns Anonymous Trackback on 01/18/2010 at 11:40 pm

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