Before the July term break I had the privilege of attending Te Ara Whakamana; a conference forum on multiple pathways and transitions i.e. about the secondary-tertiary transition and the transition to employment. The conference is jointly hosted by Ako Aotearoa and the Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).
One workshop - Internships: New pathways to employment - had some disturbing aspects. The workshop was about the MIT internship 'opportunity'.
This is the spiel in the conference programme:
Auckland Airport, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), and retailers based within the international terminal have collaborated since 2012 to develop and implement a partnered internship programme that fits with the simple objective of local jobs for local talent.
While simple in its goal, the programme is detailed in its preparation to enable prospective interns to go through a series of interview and multiple job opportunities. While unpacking the internship programme, this presentation will offer practical examples of modelling an internships pathway from classroom to workplace.
Sounds great doesn’t it?
The course is pitched at local Pasifika and Māori students, some of whom access this programme via the Youth Guarantee fees free scheme (called a scholarship by many tertiary providers including MIT).
Start the job before you get the job “this scheme provides an opportunity for tourism students to obtain work experience and employment in customer-service positions with a variety of retailers at Auckland International Airport”.
The employers work with MIT to identify the requirements that they believe important for the students to meet.
MIT carries out a pre-recruitment phase that includes identifying suitable students - i.e. those that meet the employer requirements. These students are rewarded by being selected to attend an employment ‘expo’ at the airport where they meet potential employers and the employers meet them.
Not on the slide above is this little gem:
Students are well prepared in not asking 'those' questions "how much do I get paid? When are my holidays?" internship opportunity— Teachers@ PPTA (@PPTAWeb) June 29, 2015
MIT do not prepare the student to ask ‘those’ questions (other than telling them not to ask during the expo).
This part of the employer / employee dynamic is left entirely up to the student to negotiate when the employer offers the student a position (cue Tui’s advertisement here).
The power and rights and responsibilities issues seem obvious to the union observer - but apparently not to MIT.
For MIT the end goal has been met and the students and their families are so very happy that the student has a job opportunity.
The internship positions are for three months and the employer may offer the student a job after the ‘internship’ period is over.
It seems that there is a considerable loss of connection, understanding and responsibility, by MIT to other aspects of students lives - such as those mentioned by other speakers at the conference -
The ability to live!
and to have "a good life".
Some of us care about education being part of 'the good life' others, perhaps unthinkingly - given that in some contexts a job (any job?) is a privilege when times are tight - are preparing students for being malleable biddable servants in the great work machine.
Thinking about the students told not to ask potential employers "those" questions. Workers/students have rights. pic.twitter.com/V0j3W9Za8Y— Teachers@ PPTA (@PPTAWeb) June 29, 2015
You can find the PowerPoint presentation that was delivered during the workshop here:
More information about young workers employment rights - Young Workers Resource Centre