Penguin Random House introduces paid work experience

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Accommodation support will also be offered to candidates that live outside of London

Publisher Penguin Random House has announced it will start paying £262.50 a week to participants on its two-week work experience programme.

The publishing house currently has 450 two-week work experience places.

Accommodation support will also be offered for candidates that live outside of London, as the company will be providing accommodation to those on work placements who need it.

Neil Morrison, director of strategy, culture and innovation at Penguin Random House, told HR magazine that payment allows those who may not be able to work for free to have a chance to gain valuable experience.

“By taking the extra step of paying everyone who does work experience with us we believe we can help change the future shape of the publishing workforce, giving more people from outside London or from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds the opportunity to benefit from meaningful experience in the really exciting world of publishing,” he said.

“Through offering meaningful and paid work experience we hope we will open the door to the next generation of passionate and creative young people and develop a skilled pipeline of future talent.”

He suggested that businesses could benefit, as well as those undertaking the work experience. “I’d encourage any company or brand to think of work experience as investing in its future workforce and structure it accordingly,” he said. “It should be a genuine learning experience that gives something to the participant as well as the organisation.”

This development continues Penguin Random House’s efforts to make the publishing industry more inclusive. Last year it removed the need to have a degree to work there, and employees across the business have been trained to recognise the role of unconscious bias in decision-making.

Penguin Random House already runs a programme called The Scheme annually, which is a flagship entry-level programme open to all. The Scheme aims to find talented candidates based on their ideas and potential rather than their experience and qualifications, and attempts to reach applicants who may not otherwise have considered a career in publishing. Four successful candidates are taken on each year for a 13-month paid programme.

When it comes to what other firms could be offering, Morrison suggested helping candidates with workplace skills they may not have been taught in school. “On a practical level, make sure you are properly supporting candidates to understand the softer and social elements of being in the workplace – from how to dress for your office environment, to how to long to take for lunch, to where the loos are,” he said.

“Finally, always seek feedback from participants once they have completed work experience to make sure you're getting your offering right and looking for improvements.”

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