Philip L. Elison questions the advice of Lou Glazer from Michigan future who says that unpaid internships are the answer to Michigan’s exodus of graduates.
Unlike paid jobs, internships provided by Michigan’s universities and colleges are generally unpaid, half-time positions, doing the work normally done by full-time professionals in the field. What career offices are touting as “hands-on experience” is what employers view as “free labor.” It is no surprise graduates then run for the paying jobs in other states. As the adage goes, “You get what you pay for.”
And he suggests a solution: do what the US law says.
Instead of internships, businesses and organizations should be creating apprenticeships. In the skilled trade sectors, an apprentice begins to work for a skilled mentor that provides advice, guidance and counsel. While working and being paid, the college apprentice gets on-the-job training, makes connections in the field and accumulates hands-on experience.
It’s so obvious you wonder why Michigan Future haven’t thought of it themselves.
Update (July 15): The president of the Detroit Regional Chamber offers a defense of the program: the program will focus on paid and rewarding interships – 25,000 of them. It would be nice to hear from those interns once the program starts.