Straight talk about unpaid internships

Last month’s Will Work For Exposure conference at Ryerson University may have been the first time a public conversation was held in Canada about unpaid internships. The panel on internships included this presentation from Andrew Langille, a Toronto-based lawyer and graduate student. Langille is responsible for Youth and Work, a website that provides information for young people about employment issues.

Although there are currently no statistics on unpaid internships in Canada, Langille estimates that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 illegal unpaid internships in this country every year. Internships aren’t just an issue that affects youth, either. Workers in their late 20s and 30s take on internships, as well as recent immigrants and older workers making career changes. Langille describes unpaid internships as “a growing threat within the labour market” and “a massive violation of employment standards hiding in plain sight.”

Langille’s summary of the detrimental effects of unpaid internships on Canadian society is eye-opening and disheartening. Don’t stop before you get to the end of the video, though — he closes with a couple of suggestions for how the issue can be addressed.

Spoiler alert: collecting some hard data would be an excellent place to start.

Posted on November 9, 2012 at 8:30 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

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