Australia

Muffin Break manager’s 'self-important millennials' claim slammed by intern group

Muffin Break general manager Natalie Brennan says that millennials are unwilling to work for free. Source: Supplied

The advocacy group for interns and students undertaking work placements says young people are more than willing to gain work experience, but many can’t afford it.

Muffin Break has copped a fierce backlash after its general manager claimed young people are increasingly unwilling to work for free to gain valuable work experience. 

The chain's general manager Natalie Brennan said she'd seen a decline in the number of younger people and new graduates approaching her business for unpaid internships over the past decade.

“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody,” Ms Brennan told News Corp.

But the comments have drawn the ire of 'millennials' and trade unionists who attacked Ms Brennan - especially over her claims young people think social media ‘is going to get them ahead,’ and that there is ‘definitely an inflated view of their self-importance'.

Interns Australia, the support and advocacy group for interns and students undertaking work placements in Australia, said most young people could not afford to work for free.

“The research we’ve done has shown that when a young person does an unpaid internship they’re often out of pocket around $6000,” IA executive director, Sarah Ashman-Baird told SBS News.

She said the idea that millennials are unwilling to gain work experience is ‘unfair’ and that Gen Y is just as willing as other generations to complete internships as a stepping stone to their field of choice.

Ms Ashman-Baird said the backlash to the polarising comments could signal a positive shift in the way internships are regarded and regulated.

“Essentially [the backlash] indicates that people value young people’s time as well," she said.

“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to undertake an internship regardless of their background.”

Muffin Break has also previously fallen afoul of the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

In 2016 the Ombudsman found two employees were underpaid a total of over $46,000, and in 2014 it found a student who had worked at Muffin Break for almost two years had been underpaid almost $20,000.

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