A student was underpaid almost $7000 during an internship with a Sydney firm of architects, a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation has found. The student was completing a masters degree in architecture when he was paid $12 per hour for six months of full-time work. His duties included architectural drawing, consulting with clients and and conducting site visits...the student, aged in his 20s,... was short-changed $6830. — smh.com.au
According to Australian labor laws, the student was performing work that was not part of his architectural education and should have received minimum wage payment. Australia's minimum wage is $16.88 (in comparison, the US minimum wage is currently $7.25/hr) and after the student's graduation his payment should have risen to $21.19 an hour.
This news is the latest in a gathering storm surrounding the abuse of intern labor in architecture and other fields. For example, former interns at the publisher Condé Nast recently won a lawsuit against the firm, collecting a total of $5.8 million for unpaid labor (divided among 7,500 people).
The issue is part of a larger, systematic problem that inhibits young people at the nascence of their careers. In conjunction with the massive loans need to get educated, un- and underpaid internships are an impossible burden to shoulder for many aspiring architects, yet are often presented as a normal and necessary aspect of getting into the profession. For more information of the issue of student debt as it pertains to architecture, check out Archinect's series The State of Debt and the Price of Architecture, part 1 and 2.