Internships are work-based learning experiences, but when they are unpaid and become the standard after formal education, they imply an opportunity cost and could add to the formation of obstacles to the socio-economic mobility that (public) education should seek to attenuate. The present study consists of an evaluation of the intern economy in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Based on data of over 900 available positions in the cultural industry, we examine the demand for internships by organisations and address issues such as substitution and efficacy in the intern economy. We discuss our findings in light of some proposed misconceptions regarding the education-based meritocracy, related to the diminishing role of educational credentials in hiring decisions, the changing role of education in socio-economic mobility, and the overlooked role of employers that prioritise the productive efficiency of their organisations over equal opportunities.

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Keywords Internships, cultural industry, demand, socio-economic mobility
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Journal Journal of Education and Work
Skujina, R., & Loots, E.M.M.P. (2020). The intern economy in the cultural industry: an empirical study of the demand side. Journal of Education and Work. doi:10.1080/13639080.2020.1820961