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New CIPD Internship Charter raises the bar for both jobseekers and employers

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) today launches the Internship Charter – a voluntary code of practice aimed at improving the quality of schemes – to support jobseekers, particularly graduates, and employers during these difficult economic times. Given the commitment from the Government and business community to expand internships, the Charter is designed to encourage best practice and to ensure that increasing the quantity of work placements on offer does not reduce the quality of placements. Tom Richmond, CIPD Skills Advisor says: “Our Internship Charter will offer organisations a way to provide interns with a genuine and worthwhile experience that enhances their skills and their overall employability, which will have important knock-on effects for UK businesses and the overall jobs market. “There are many potential benefits for businesses of all sizes but only if it is of sufficient quality. Key skills like team working and project management are best developed in the workplace, which is why internships can be rewarding for both individual and employers. During these difficult times it is right for government to encourage organisations to offer internships, but we believe that our new code of practice should be adhered to, especially if interns are working for no salary.” The Internship Charter’s six principles are set out below: 1. Recruitment - Interns should be recruited in broadly the same way as regular employees of an organisation, with proper consideration given to how their skills and qualifications fit with the tasks they will be expected to fulfil. Recruitment should be conducted in an open and rigorous way to enable fair and equal access to available internships. The job advertisement should give a clear indication of how long the internship will last, and at interview, the intern should be told honestly whether there is a real chance of obtaining a full-time contract. 2. Induction - Interns should receive a proper induction to the organisation they enter to allow them to fully integrate. Whether joining a large organisation, or an SME, an Intern just entering the job market may find the workplace intimidating. It is important to introduce an intern to the staff and the values of the organisation to help them integrate into the team, and allow them to hit the ground running. 3. Supervision - Organisations should ensure there is a dedicated person(s) who has ring-fenced time in their work schedule to supervise the intern and conduct regular performance reviews. This person should provide ongoing feedback to the intern, be their advocate and mentor during the period of internship, and conduct a formal performance review to evaluate the success of their time with the organisation. 4. Treatment - During their time with an organisation interns should be treated with exactly the same degree of professionalism and duty of care as regular employees. They should not be seen as ‘visitors’ to the organisation, or automatically assigned routine tasks that do not make use of their skills. Organisations should make some allowance for interns to, on occasion, attend job interviews or complete study requirements. 5. Payment and Duration - As a bare minimum the organisation should cover any necessary work-related expenses incurred by the intern. This includes travel to and from work, and any travel costs incurred whilst attending external meetings/events. If an internship is unpaid and provides only expenses, then the internship should be no longer than four months. 6. Certification/Reference and Feedback - On completion of their internship organisations should provide interns with a certificate/reference letter detailing the work they have undertaken, the skills and experience acquired, and the content of the formal performance review conducted at the end of the internship. Interns should also be offered the opportunity to give feedback on their experience in an ‘exit interview’, giving organisations the opportunity to reflect on its own performance in delivering internships. Courtesy of and