The government’s new internship program, which, combined with skills training, replaces work for the dole, has been heavily criticised in recent days.

The hyperbolic detractors have gone as far to label the scheme exploitive “slave labour”, despite job seekers still receiving Newstart and an additional $200 a fortnight.

Internships are not coercion or exploitation. It is a voluntary, mutually beneficial activity where one party recognises that, due to inexperience, their labour is not yet particularly valuable. And the other party, considering the costs and benefits behind training a low-skilled employee, cannot yet afford to pay them a full wage.

Ideally, internships would not require government subsidy. Nevertheless, giving young people, especially those who are already unemployed, workplace experience is a good policy. This is intrinsically linked to Australia’s high minimum wage, at $17.29 per hour, compared to the effective full-time wage on Newstart, $6.93 per hour. The minimum wage is fantastic for those who are employed, however if someone’s labour produces less value, let’s say $16.50 per hour, and a business is required to pay them more, they will simply not get hired.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

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