This week is National Student Employment Week. With the launch of the Unitemps employment module in the Warwick Skills Certificate and increasing coverage and debate surrounding student employment, we looked at student employment in the UK and at Warwick.
In 2003 UNITE and MORI published the Student Living Report 2003. Their findings are based on a survey of 1086 students from 21 UK universities.
They found that 41% of students undertake paid employment during term-time (although other surveys at times suggest a higher figure than this), working an average of 13 hours per week. Student employees earn well above the national minimum wage with an average hourly salary of £6.20 (minimum wage is currently set at £3.80 per hour for 18-21 year olds and £4.50 per hour for 22+ year olds). The average hourly earnings for students in the Midlands is £5.77.
The good news for Warwick students is that the average of £5.77 an hour for Midlands students is generally the minimum they can expect to earn through a Unitemps job, where salaries usually range from £5.78 to £8.91 per hour.
Unitemps currently have 3800 temps registered with them, and around 3000 clients set up on their database. Last year they filled 2100 assignments, with jobs ranging from an hour here or there, to assignments with an indefinite time limit on them. The launch of the Warwick Skills Certificate module also marks the recognition that through employment students are gaining valuable skills and utilising the transferable skills they gain through their studies.
The Students’ Union is also a major employer on the Warwick campus, employing 250-300 students every year as food and beverage assistants, media sales staff, student trainers, reception and retail staff, DJs, technical services assistants, research assistants and crowd safety staff. Pay in the Students’ Union varies from £4.87 to £5.91 an hour.
But Warwick students don’t just take on salaried part-time work. Warwick is also home to a large community of volunteers. 1070 students are signed-up with Warwick Volunteers (of which about 500 are actively involved in projects), and many more students are involved in voluntary activities through their own clubs and societies, such as Nightline which provides an invaluable support system to fellow students.
Students can also work as volunteer stewards in the Arts Centre, where at present 205 are “employed”. While head stewards do get paid, volunteer stewards receive travel expenses and the opportunity to see the performances they work at.
Brian Smith works part-time in Senate House to subsidise his part-time MA in Continental Philosophy. Brain claims to earn much more than just a salary for his work. “Working at the University provides me with a better than average wage which helps me meet both my living and study costs. It also allows me to work in an interesting environment, develop a number of new skills, and offers insight into the running and organisation of universities – something that will help me to pursue a career in academia.”
So the University of Warwick is not unique in the number of students working in part-time employment, but our students, through their work, are gaining valuable skills and the University gains a valuable, flexible, work force in return.
Find out more about National Student Employment Week at www.nases.org.uk