Clegg targets 'who you know' culture of work experience

Nick Clegg will today call time on the "who you know" culture that prevents many young people from modest backgrounds securing work experience and internships.

The civil service will ban "informal" internships or work experience lasting more than a week from next year to set an example to other employers. Companies will be urged to sign a new "business compact" under which work experience slots would be advertised in local schools.

HM Revenue & Customs will launch a crackdown in professions such as law and journalism where work experience is commonplace, to ensure that people are paid the national minimum wage or receive out of pocket expenses.

Ministers say that many young people miss out because they lack the personal contacts or cannot afford to take an unpaid internship. They believe this is hindering efforts to close the "life chances gap" between the poor and better off.

Mr Clegg will announce his moves when he issues the Government's plans to improve social mobility and tackle child poverty. He will say: "For too long, internships have been the almost exclusive preserve of the sharp-elbowed and the well-connected. Unfair, informal internships can rig the market in favour of those who already have opportunities. We want a fair job market based on merit not networks. It should be about what you know, not who you know."

He will add: "A country that is socially mobile bases opportunity on your ability and drive, not on who your father's friends are."

Mr Clegg's comments are likely to prove controversial with companies and with those young people who do benefit from work experience, who say that it helps them to narrow down their career options and get a foot in the door. Businesses argue that the practice allows them to recruit permanent staff on a meritocratic basis.

The informal nature of work placements means that Whitehall has no official record of how many young people do work experience there. From next year, all civil service internships will be advertised on a central website so that anyone can apply.

Ministers have no immediate plans to legislate to force companies to outlaw informal work experience programmes. They hope that firms will support a voluntary approach by backing the new compact. Their staff will spend more time in schools telling pupils about the world of work and operate a "fair and transparent" selection process for work experience.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who has made social mobility his key policy priority, will admit: "In Britain today, life chances are narrowed for too many by the circumstances of their birth: the home they're born into, the neighbourhood they grow up in or the jobs their parents do."

Mr Clegg will announce that, to measure Britain's progress in tackling the "life chances gap" between poor and better off children, people will be monitored at seven key stages of their life.

These will include recording their birth weight; whether they know the alphabet when they start school; their performance in exams, particularly in English and maths; achievements in further or higher education and their place in the job market when they reach 30.

Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Such tweet sorrow: Will's gone digital
arts
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
Life & Style
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Life & Style
On the dogwalk: a poodle on the runway during a Mulberry show in London
fashionThe duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
News
peopleEmma Appleton says photographer said he would shoot her for magazine if she slept with him
Extras
indybest
News
peopleRevealed: Goop.com's losses - and the pay rises
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Automation Test Manager (C#, C++, VB.NET, QTP, Management)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Automation Test Manager (C#, C++, VB.NET, QTP, M...

C# Web Application Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, TDD)

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Applica...

Data Quality Analyst (SQL, Excel, Word, Finance, Access)

£20000 - £26000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Qua...

Newly Qualified Auditor? - Audit Manager Opportunity - £50k

£50000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Are you a newly qualified ...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents