Work experience? Sure! That’ll be £100 a day

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Another disconcerting sign of the times. University leavers are now being charged up to £100 a day for the privilege of gleaning the work experience that they hope will be their golden ticket to employment.

The logic is that small or otherwise inaccessible companies can now be compensated for throwing open their doors to graduates desperate to secure a job.

One of the positions on offer at Etsio, the website behind the initiative, is £100 a day to carry out “administrative work at a vitamin-selling website”. This seems like a profoundly bum deal to me.  Leaving to one side the fact that “administrative work” is not necessarily a phrase that would light a potential employee’s fire, a single day’s work is neither here nor there. So the graduates will presumably have to look at forking out hundreds of pounds to amass any meaningful work experience. Clearly, something that only those with well-off parents will be able to afford.

As an employer (and a mum who will one day be gunning for her own kids to be given a break), I’m eager to help out this generation of graduates who have it so much harder than I ever did. Hence the number of graduates and even sixth formers who we welcome for a week’s taste of PR. Many of them have been outstanding and an absolute delight to have around. Some, to be frank, not so much.

Why a week?  Because anything less is largely a waste of time for both parties. Why not the months on end that many beleaguered graduates work at some companies, without being paid a penny? Because it’s immoral and exploitative.

There’s no getting away from the fact that accommodating work experience is a time-consuming and often inconvenient business.  Finding something constructive and educational for your visitors to do, briefing them, handholding them, feeding back to them, and then – frequently – redoing what they’ve completed… that’s a big ask for an already stretched account handler.

But the lovely letters of thanks we regularly receive from young people convince me that it’s worth it. So, thanks all the same, but we won’t be charging for work experience.