South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust are taking the piss. They’re advertising for a full-time, one year assistant psychologist post that is completely unpaid.
These jobs usually pay about £20,000-24,000 in London but despite this offer being completely exploitative they could easily fill the post for free.
The reason is because assistant psychologist jobs are one of the key steps to get on to training as a clinical psychologist which is a massively popular career in the UK.
This is partly because psychology itself became a hot topic and universities realised about 15 years ago that the subject was a money spinner, meaning many undergraduate courses regularly have about 200 students a year on them.
This put additional pressure on clinical psychology training places, which for the last decade have had about 20 applications for each place on the course.
As the competition is intense, assistant psychologist jobs are like gold dust. The NHS Trust I work in regularly takes down adverts for these jobs after about 24 hours, at which point they may have received up to 500 applications.
So finding someone to do a £20,000 assistant psychology job for free should be fairly trivial.
You can also see an additional trend at work: while you need an approved doctorate to now qualify for the profession, many hope an MSc in the same subject area – which doesn’t actually do anything except extend your academic knowledge – will help their chances.
Universities are capitalising on this demand and lots of MSc courses have started popping up all over the country, all with ‘not quite clinical psychology’ names like “foundations of clinical psychology” and “clinical applications of psychology”.
I don’t doubt they’re excellent, but that’ll be another maybe 10 grand on top of your student debt.
The effect of all this is that the not-so-well-off are inadvertently filtered out of the profession and we increasingly lack diversity in an already overly-homogeneous profession.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure this unpaid assistant psychologist job is valuable work. But not exploiting young people should also be a priority.