What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
Unpaid work/internships threaten social mobility in many sectors of employment. Graduates are regularly being told that they must work unpaid for the first two to five years of their career. Those from poorer backgrounds, leaving university or college with large debts simply cannot afford to take on work such as this. In many cases graduates are not aware of their rights.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
“Unpaid or low-paid work placements (and unpaid work) remain prevalent within the creative sector (NUJ, 2007; Cabinet Office, 2009; Arts Group and Skillset, 2010; Ball et al, 2010; BECTU, 2010), which can be a barrier to undertaking a work placement for students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds”.
—Work Placements in the Arts and Cultural sector, Equality Challenge Unit 2010
“Almost 1 in 5 British businesses admit to using interns as cheap labour”
—YouGov, on behalf of Internocracy
The UK department for Business, Innovation and Skill’s website recently showed advertisements for 2,239 intern vacancies in various sectors, including media. 1004 of them are unpaid.
What is your solution?
Change must start with the individual. That means showing, through best practice that a company, even one in the Arts, can pay its staff and turn a profit. We need to educate and empower those new to the profession that taking on unpaid work is not a “necessary evil” but a decision not to be taken lightly.
Unpaid work and volunteering has its place, but should not always be a solution. So many new graduates go on to become employers themselves at some point in their career so it is vital that we break the cycle through education. We shall also insist that all external content has paid its cast and crew, or has a deferred payment contract in place, should the film make a profit.
How will you deliver this?
ESPTV is the start of a large initiative for Ermine Street Project. Once the channel is up and running, broadcasting a mix of in-house and externally produced content, we can then show how our business model can perform. This will be used to gain investment to produce more content in-house, creating far more paid jobs in the long term. We are also in the process of gaining funding to build a studio and workshop space that can run workshops, therapeutic services and alternative learning environments for a vast array of groups in the community alongside productions for the channel.