Students definitely facing internship discrimination in Utrecht: study
Vocational students in Utrecht definitely face discrimination when looking for an internship, the Verwey Jonker Institute concluded in a study into both objective and experienced discrimination. Discrimination was mainly based on education level, ethnicity, religion, clothing, appearance, and skin color, according to the researchers, NOS reports.
The study was conducted on behalf of the municipality of Utrecht and the vocational education institutions in the city. A total of 577 applications were sent to 288 internship vacancies, so that the researchers could measure who was and was not invited. Over 600 Utrecht students also completed a questionnaire.
About a quarter of Utrecht vocational students reported that they experienced or suspected discrimination while seeking an internship. During the internship, one in eight students experienced discrimination.
Internship discrimination was particularly prevalent among IT companies, where students with an Islamic background were noticeably less likely to find a spot than other students. Health and welfare had no sign of discrimination. Students whose CVs show they are Muslim were even more likely to get an internship in this sector. Women were also at an advantage here.
Researcher Mehmet Day called this study extraordinary. "It is the first time that both objective and perceived discrimination have been examined simultaneously, in the local context of internship discrimination," he said to NOS.
The researchers suggested that educational institutions better prepare students for job interviews, to make them more resilient. Internship supervisors and employers must also be made more aware that discrimination occurs. The researchers suggested that employers use standard forms when selecting trainees, with no questions about personal data. Instead, the employer can indicate which competencies are important for the internship position, and the applicant can indicate their learning needs.
They also recommended that study programs employ a confidential counselor, where students can go with complaints about discrimination without having to worry about losing their internship.
"Reducing internship discrimination requires greater awareness and a sense of urgency among education professionals, employers and policy makers to really drive change," the researchers concluded.
Utrecht alderman Klaas Verschuure said he was shocked by the results of the study. "With this research and the recommendations, we can now tackle internship discrimination in a more targeted way and at the same time guide and support students," he said.