Don’t Axe Graduate Internship Scheme, says FSB

Don’t Axe Graduate Internship Scheme, says FSBThe Government must extend a graduate internship scheme coming to an end in March because it creates more money for the economy than it costs.

That’s the plea from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which says an £8 million investment in 5,000 subsidised internships in small businesses would yield £10 million for the UK economy.

At a time of record youth unemployment, it will also prevent many UK graduates being “consigned to the dole queue”, said the FSB’s national chairman, John Walker. According to FSB figures, one in four interns on the scheme is offered a permanent position.

Yet the Government has confirmed that there are “no current plans” to repeat the graduate internship initiative, delivered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) since 2009.

“The scheme was introduced as a recession measure and, as originally planned, will come to an end on 31 March 2011.”

said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The scheme was introduced in 2009 to provide subsidised internships in small businesses in “priority sectors” for 8,500 recent graduates over two years. Saying it had been “highly successful”, the FSB claimed that providing a further 5,000 subsidised places would cost the government £8 million.

The business group has calculated that this will yield just over £10 million for the UK economy – by saving £4.87 million in benefits payments and generating £5.4 million in income tax payments from the quarter of interns who are given permanent jobs.

According to December employment figures, almost a million 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work. John walker added:

“The UK’s young people are the future of the economy, yet we are seeing youth unemployment approaching one million. It’s time the Government invested in this vital sector so that we don’t see a generation of youngsters consigned to the dole queue.”

However, a BIS spokesperson confirmed that the scheme would be ending, saying:

“HEFCE are currently evaluating the opportunities for higher education students and graduates to undertake high quality work experience and this work is due to report in spring 2011.”

For more business advice on the subject read our articles on Graduate Recruitment and Internships: What is an Internship?

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