High-flying students from Hackney are amongst those set to benefit from a paid internship scheme sponsored by the City of London Corporation.
The City of London Business Traineeship Programme (CBT) will help over 100 talented state school pupils gain work experience at top City firms and bodies like Clifford Chance and Lloyd’s of London over the summer in a bid to encourage social mobility and promote equal access to the job market at a time when it is estimated close to a million 16-24 year olds are unemployed.
Over the last 10 years, the programme has secured more than 670 paid work placements for academically dedicated young people from London, with this year’s figure setting a new record. Last year, the CBT produced 85 placements.
Stuart Fraser, the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation, is encouraged by the scheme’s expansion:
It’s encouraging to see an unprecedented number of City firms offering paid work placements through this year’s City of London Business Traineeship scheme and recognising what they can do to support talented individuals from more challenging backgrounds. With a tough job market, it has never been more important for young people to gain real employment experience.
The host companies appeared equally enthusiastic. Vicky Mirfin, the Community Affairs Manager at Lloyd’s, pointed out that the world’s leading insurance market had supported the CBT for several years and that it was part of a commitment to providing long-term opportunities for local students:
We recognise that getting hands on work experience can be career transformational and these kinds of opportunities are not so easy for City-fringe students to access. In addition, we are keen to introduce Lloyd’s to the local talent on its doorstep and this has proved fruitful. Some of our trainees have gone on to either permanent roles within the Lloyd’s market or have been invited back for additional placements.
With placements set to commence in July, the selection process is now at its most crucial stage. Final interviews are conducted by the host firms, with applicants receiving coaching and support from the City of London Corporation and their partners, non-profit organisation Brokerage Citylink.
The scheme has received particular attention this year as a result of an internal spat on the subject between Prime Minister David Cameron, and Deputy, Nick Clegg.
Clegg, in the run-up to the local elections in April, called on internships to be paid in an attempt to allow equal access to the professions. Cameron was later quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying:
Actually, I’ve got my neighbour coming in for an internship. In the modern world, of course you’re always going to have internships and interns — people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever. I do that and I’ll go on doing that. I feel very relaxed about it.
A bbc report last week noted that nearly half the internships advertised on the Department for Business website are still unpaid.
By James Laird