JESS Seminar: Access to and Returns from Unpaid Graduate InternshipsISER Internal Seminars

Higher education is a risky investment. Students forego several years of earnings before entering a competitive graduate labour market. In many fields, the over-supply of graduates willing to work at the starting wage means employers can demand prior work experience, often attainable only by taking an unpaid position. In this paper we use the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (DLHE) to evaluate the socio-economic gradient in access to unpaid internships among English and Welsh graduates six months after completing their first degree, and the return to this internship experience for their labour market outcomes 3 years later. We compare graduate interns’ later salary, occupation, contract type and career satisfaction with otherwise similar graduates who took alternative paths first using a propensity score matching estimator, and then exact matching on graduates’ reported reasons for their current labour market activity. The matching estimates show a significant salary penalty at 3.5 years after graduation compared with those going straight into paid work, but while former interns gain nothing in objective job quality over those not in paid work or further study, they have significantly higher career satisfaction.

Presented by:

Angus Holford, ISER

Date & time:

November 23, 2016 1:00 pm - November 23, 2016 2:00 pm


2N2.4.16, Large Seminar Room

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