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Internship schemes: are interns worthy of their hire?

An innovative way for job seekers to gain work experience, or a sneaky excuse for employers to recruit unpaid labour?

Internships caused a stir last month after the Department for Business Innovation and Skills produced guidance advising that interns should be paid at least National Minimum Wage, while graduate website Graduatefog pledged to 'name and shame' employers that don't offer people on internship schemes at least some form of financial reward. Our experts disagree...

Simon Nash, HR director, Carey Olsen

Should employers offer paid or unpaid internships? Arguments can be made on both commercial and philosophical grounds for both, but we run paid and unpaid internships.

We don't think it would be better to run a system in which all students were on the same deal. Like other sectors, in which the practical application of knowledge is essential, in law it's vital for students to gain work experience in a variety of areas.

There are more students needing quality practice than employers can accommodate.

Having an additional capacity to offer unpaid internships enables us to offer a wider service to the community while running a well-paid talent pipeline to meet future needs. We have also used the unpaid scheme, which has less rigorous selection requirements, as a point of contact from which impressive candidates can apply for paid work experience or eventually a fully employed role.

For us, one size definitely does not fit all.

Sandra Mollenhauer, head of personnel marketing, Bosch UK

We pay all our interns more than the national minimum wage and run a structured internship programme at our sites in the UK.

In our head office, we employ 40 interns. This number varies but we try to offer a minimum number of places. We usually have a variety of internship positions available in different departments of the company.

It is an invaluable introduction for the intern to the industry; they can apply for a role that suits their interests and it provides the experience of working in a busy and cross-cultural environment.

We value the fact that interns are motivated and enthusiastic and bring fresh ideas. It enables us to identify talent for the future. They get to know Bosch inside out and are trained in our ethos, processes and systems. They develop relationships with people across the different divisions. Former interns are usually more attractive to us as a permanent employee, as they already have the knowledge and experience of working at Bosch.