Unpaid internships are costing youngsters more than £1,000 a month in London, due to the rising cost of rent, a new study finds.
The Sutton Trust claims that 10,000 young people accept internships following graduation, with a fifth of those being unpaid. The rise in rents in the capital means many people from low and middle-income families will be unable to take up such internships.
The educations charity says it is worried that the "significant costs" involved are blocking people's career paths.
Unpaid internships costs a single person in London more than £1,000 a month, and £827 in Manchester, the study found. Living costs in both cities have risen since the last time the Trust carried out a similar study four years ago.
In the report, the Trust say that unpaid internships that are currently being advertised include a major fashion designer wanting someone for up to three months in the lead-up to London Fashion Week, and an MP offering only expenses for a researcher, said the report.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Around 40% of young people who have carried out an internship have done so unpaid. All internships over four weeks should be paid at least the minimum wage of £7.50 per hour.
"Failure to do so prevents young people from low and moderate-income backgrounds from accessing jobs in some of the most desirable sectors such as journalism, fashion, the arts and politics.
"All internship positions should be advertised publicly. Large numbers of internships are never advertised and instead offered through informal networks.
"This practice locks out young people without connections. Also, the process by which potential candidates are selected for internships should uphold the same standards of recruitment as for other jobs."