Akavan Erityisalat, a Finnish trade union representing professionals in various fields, has raised concerns about the mistreatment of interns in the country. According to the union, interns are still being shamelessly used as cheap labor, with employers taking advantage of their vulnerable position to make them work for little or no pay. The union has called on both employers and higher education institutions to address the issue.
The treatment of interns says a lot about the employer, and the problem is particularly prevalent in the communication, culture, and restaurant sectors. Akavan Erityisalat believes that paid and high-quality internships should be integrated into the curriculum of various fields such as cultural, museum, administration, communication, tourism, and restaurant industries.
Internships should be adequately paid and well-supervised, and the good treatment of interns should be a matter of pride for employers, said Amalia Poutanen, a negotiation manager at Akavan Erityisalat. The union's surveys have revealed that many interns are being made to do the work of a professional, even without pay or proper guidance, and are often brought in to fill the gaps left by permanent employees.
The union is concerned that well-known employers can get away with mistreating interns because there are always more students willing to accept poor working conditions in exchange for a line on their CV. Additionally, interns may feel they cannot raise concerns about the treatment they receive since they are in a subordinate position. However, employers must take responsibility for the treatment of interns, who are in a vulnerable position.
If internships are conducted in an employment relationship, employers must comply with Finnish occupational safety laws, which require them to train employees on health and safety regulations before starting new work or tasks. Akavan Erityisalat is challenging not only employers but also educational institutions to communicate the terms and conditions of internships and ensure they are being adhered to.
Internships offer many students their first real glimpse into the workforce and can be an important stepping stone to a career. If the initial experience is encouraging and fair, it can pave the way for a successful career. This benefits not only the employers, who will have access to a pool of talented professionals, but also society as a whole.
Akavan Erityisalat reminds us that there are serious deficiencies in the quality of internships offered in Finland, particularly in terms of remuneration. Unpaid internships can delay graduation and hinder students' career prospects. Therefore, both employers and educational institutions should take the issue of intern mistreatment seriously and collaborate to ensure that internships are fair, productive, and beneficial for everyone involved.
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