Career Ready urges employers to provide 140-hour paid internships to boost apprenticeships and social mobility

Career Ready, a leading national charity that pairs teenagers from lower-income backgrounds with influential employers, has today launched a campaign urging companies to commit to 140 hour paid internships.

Supported by the Citi Foundation, the 140 Hours campaign shows the transformational impact of paid internships on young people who have the potential to succeed but lack the networks, role models and confidence of their wealthier peers.

The campaign launches at a crucial time for major businesses, especially those with a turnover of more than £3m. This month they will be hit by the new apprenticeship levy, part of the Government’s commitment to creating an additional 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020. Businesses can only recoup that money by recruiting apprentices. Paid internships of 140 hours (four weeks) are a tried and tested way to find those young recruits, while also helping them develop essential skills for career success.

The campaign draws on compelling research from the Citi Foundation which shows that 78% of young people across the globe think internships are critical to career success, and that work experience is rated the top global factor in getting a job.

Career Ready’s 140 hour internship echoes the format set by the National Academy Foundation (NAF), its influential sister organisation in the US. The NAF has set 140 hours as its gold standard for internships as it is the minimum time needed to allow a young person to work as part of a team, complete a project and develop confidence in the workplace. 

Anne Spackman, Chief Executive of Career Ready, said: “Now is the time for employers to think about the very best ways to recruit and retain apprentices, in order to boost social mobility, bridge the skills gap and develop a talent pipeline. We want to make internships the norm, not the exception; for the many, not for the few; paid rather than given to wealthy students as a perk. 

“This new research from the Citi Foundation shows that the majority of young people globally believe that internships are the path to career success. Yet too often students from lower-income backgrounds are let down by employers offering opportunities that are unpaid and only available to family and friends. 

“We would like to see good employers rewarded for doing the right thing by being allowed to offset paid internships against the apprenticeship levy.”

James Bardrick, Citi Country Officer UK, said: “Citi is a proud supporter of Career Ready’s 140 Hours campaign. We understand the vital role that paid internships can play in the workplace, helping young people develop their skills and enabling businesses to develop a talent pipeline. As a leading global bank, we’re committed to recruiting and retaining the very best people. Internships are just one of the ways in which we can do this and we’d urge all businesses to sign up to such an important campaign.”

The 140 Hours campaign began on Wednesday 3 May 2017 with a business breakfast event for major UK companies held at Dean’s Yard in Westminster. The event was hosted by Sky News Business Presenter Ian King. 

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