Students as young as 14 years old have been discovered interning at a Foxconn factory in China. The electronics manufacturer is pointing the finger at vocational schools for not complying with company policies and Chinese labor laws. China’s minimum legal working age is 16.
Foxconn regularly recruits students as part of its internship program. Currently, labor shortages have Foxconn using student interns for 2.7 per cent of the company’s total Chinese work force. Labor rights group China Labor Watch says Foxconn may not be the primary offender in this case but they are also at fault for not verifying the ages of the interns.
Foxconn is willing to take the heat. In a statement they said:
[quote] We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action. Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated. [/quote]
Many schools require their students to get real world experience and usually make an internship a mandatory part of the curriculum. However, last month China Labor Watch said it found instances of students being forced to intern in order to receive credit. Those requirements aren’t dictated by Foxconn; it’s the vocational schools. Schools generally know the age of their students, do they not?
Going forward, Foxconn says they will work with the local government to check that the vocational schools helping organize the internships are in compliance. Foxconn has taken steps to return the students to their schools.
Ironically enough, the factory where this occurred has been said to make products for Nintendo.