New York, NY (USA)
A voluntary study conducted at NYU has shown a shocking trend amongst recent college graduates. Due to the stagnant economy and lack of job creation, recent college graduates have been turning to voluntary labor camps in order to expand their skill set while waiting for opportunities to open up. While these labor camps do provide an opportunity for people to feel useful, people are asking if this is our best option.
Some student activists have spoken out fiercely against such labor camps. Cindy Lawson, 22, expressed her concerns to us. “I feel that this is a step backwards for us who have gone to get ourselves educated. My parents worked hard so I wouldn’t have to work while I was going to school. These labor camps that offer physical labor alternatives to those of us who can’t find work in intangible and theoretical fields just doesn’t work. We don’t have the skills or the interest in helping our country with its most basic needs.”
We also spoke to the owner of a newly established Labor Camp known as Workcore in The Bronx, Ted Strickwell. “We here at Workcore are very excited to provide opportunities for young professionals to perfect their skills and build an impressive resume. Many recent college graduates or recently laid off workers worry about having large gaps in their work experience that they need to explain. We offer people a chance to fill in that gap and keep their resume fresh.” When asked how getting college graduates to perform free labor could be viewed as ethical, he stated, “Above all else we must keep in mind that all of these services are voluntary. That being said, we’ve been doing this for ages now as ‘internships.’ Most interns do office busy work that doesn’t create anything tangible. Here, clothing, packaging, steel, and other goods our voluntary labors help us provide have a real world application and they can be proud to be a part of lifting up the rest of us who do have paying jobs.”
NYC government has remained quiet on these labor camps. Requests for statements from Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn’s office have gone unanswered. Insiders speaking anonymously have hinted that local politicians are hesitant to close down such operations as they are providing needed services without increasing the deficit. An impending law suit could challenge the legality of these camps, but in the mean time you can still go down to your local labor camp to volunteer and keep your resume up to date on the off chance that the economy picks up.