Work experience

Kiran Stacey

Protests against Tesco's work experience schemeIain Duncan Smith was once more on the attack this morning against critics of the government’s work experience scheme, under which young people are told to sign up to a four-week placement at one of a range of businesses or lose their benefits.

The scheme has been controversial for two reasons. One is that it meant young people who were claiming benefits while looking for a job were not able to do work experience in their own chosen field; instead they had to go on a government-mandated scheme at a company such as Boots, McDonald’s, Argos, Tesco or Primark. The second is it meant some of the countries’ biggest companies profiting from free labour, which is why one activist referred to it this morning as “slavery”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the work and pensions secretary has dismissed such criticisms however, saying:

Armed with an unjustified sense of superiority and sporting an intellectual sneer, we find a commentating elite which seems determined to belittle and downgrade any opportunity for young people that doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion of a ‘worthwhile job’.

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