Penguin Random House UK is today announcing it will pay its work experience participants the National Living Wage in order to make the publishing industry more accessible.
It is the first publishing house in the UK to offer fully paid work experience placements to young people.
Penguin Random House offers 450 work experience placements every year to give people a taste of working for a publisher as part of a two-week structured learning programme, and all participants will now receive a salary of £262.50 per week.
At the same time, Penguin Random House, whose offices are based in London, is giving people coming from outside of London who need more help access to subsidised accommodation through a trial partnership with The Book Trade Charity.
Internships at the publishing house are already fully paid, offering candidates the opportunity to immerse themselves in the company for a longer period of time and deliver a specific work project. Work experience students had previously received travel and food expenses.
Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, believes the measures will encourage greater diversity within the industry.
He said: “At Penguin Random House we want to be open to the very best talent, regardless of background. We also believe it is vitally important that the publishing industry reflects the society we live in today.
“But we recognise that only covering expenses for work experience has been a barrier for many young people in the past.
“Through meaningful and paid work experience, we hope to open the door to the next generation of passionate and creative young people, helping them to establish their careers, and develop a skilled pipeline of future talent.”
Today’s announcement is part of a broader programme of measures from Penguin Random House that are designed to make publishing more inclusive. Last year it removed any reference to academic qualifications, including degrees, from all recruitment. It also banned all personal referrals and introduced a random selection policy for its work experience programme to open up opportunities to the widest possible talent pool.
As a result of these changes and for the first time, Penguin Random House’s work experience applicant pool now reflects the ethnic diversity both of London and the UK, indicating that it is reaching and appealing to more young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, while two thirds of its applicants have grown up outside of London or the South East.
Now, by paying work experience placements a salary, Penguin Random House UK hopes to enable more candidates from different areas and backgrounds to benefit from meaningful experience in a creative workplace.
Peter Cheese, CEO, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, commented: "It's great to see Penguin Random House promoting work experience in such a positive way, giving young people from a wide variety of backgrounds that critical opportunity to experience the workplace. In particular, they are to be commended for taking a lead on paying young people whilst they gain experience - an example we hope many others will follow."
Sophie Jackson from Lancashire, who recently completed work experience in a Penguin Random House editorial team, said: “My work experience with Penguin Random House gave me a fantastic insight into the publishing industry and the different roles that are available. I also gained practical and transferrable skills for my CV, and some great contacts who were genuinely happy to help me out with questions I had. The passion and advice from the team and other departments has inspired me to pursue a career in publishing or publicity.”
Penguin Random House UK’s work experience programme runs throughout the year, with opportunities across departments including editorial, marketing, publicity, sales and rights.
Work experience students are provided with an induction, a “buddy” and a range of experiences to help them to understand what to expect from working in a publishing house.
Applications for the first wave of paid placements in June and July open on Tuesday 18 April on the Penguin Random House Careers website.
Gift (19), lives in Bermondsey, South East London. She completed a work experience placement within Penguin Random House’s International Sales team in January 2016. She applied for the role after finishing her A Levels.
Following her work experience placement, Gift secured a Communications Apprenticeship at Unilver. Gift said of her work experience placement:
“Completing work experience in the International Sales department has been one of the best experiences of my life – and not just because of the free books!
“I’ve learned a lot about what international sales involves and got a feel for the kinds of tasks that people working in this area do day-to-day. These include researching release dates for movie adaptations of Penguin Random House’s books and helping with shipping of book catalogues around the world.
“Throughout my work experience placement, I felt like I was learning valuable lessons and making a real contribution to the team.
“My mentor really looked after me and was always on hand to answer any questions I had.
“I’d really recommend work experience at Penguin Random House – it’s been a fantastic experience.”
Sophie (22) lives in Clitheroe, Lancashire. She completed a work experience placement within one of Penguin Random House’s editorial teams in February. She applied for the role after graduating from university.
Sophie is now applying for further work experience and internship roles in publishing. Sophie said of her experience:
“My work experience placement at Penguin Random House was the best two weeks!
“Like me, the people who work at Penguin Random House are passionate about books, which made it a really exciting environment to be working in.
“I learned about how a publishing house works and the different kinds of roles that people do – from distribution to publicity. I met lots of different people, including the authors themselves.
“The team made me feel really welcome and a valued member of the team. Every day in the office was different – I met so many creative people and got involved in a real variety of interesting tasks.
“My mentor at Penguin Random House was also very helpful in giving me further career advice – from helping with my CV to answering all of the many questions I had!
“After my work experience placement I’m keen to pursue a career in publishing. I’d recommend the scheme to anyone who is interested in books and wants to find out more about what it’s like to work in the industry.”
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