Royal Institute of British Architects Requires All Member Firms To Do Away with Unpaid Internships, Start Paying Student Workers

Continuing from that last post about labor practices, some big news coming out of the UK late this week. Ruth Reed, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has announced that the organization has changed their Chartered Practice criteria to instruct that every member firm must now pay at least minimum wage to all employed students, effective July 1st of this year. This move will do away with the unfortunately standard practice across the industry of unpaid internships, something many of even the top starchitect shops have taken advantage of over the years. While this new added expense comes at a difficult time for the still-struggling architecture industry and might result in fewer student hires, the RIBA sees it as a lasting positive. And now that they’ve done it, there’s sure to be a big push for the RIBA’s U.S. counterpart, the American Institute of Architects, to put into practice a similar new law (read this discussion over at Archinect for more). Here’s Reed’s statement on the change:

Whilst all appreciate that trading conditions are extremely difficult for practices at the moment, the financial position of students is particularly severe and about to get considerably worse when fees treble next year. The requirement for adherence to the National Minimum Wage will assist students in completing their education and go some way to alleviate the effects of the education cuts on the flow of talent into the profession. The future of architecture depends on a succession of talented designers and we must do all we can to prevent them being deterred by the spiraling cost of education. Further investigation into pay levels will be undertaken which will help to provide a level playing field for job costs and fee bids for chartered practices.