Social Change and Innovation in the Labour Market: Evidence from the Census SARs on Occupational Segregation and Labour Mobility, Part-Time Work and Student Jobs, Homework and Self-Employment

By Catherine Hakim | Go to book overview
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6
Working Students: Students in Full-Time Education with Full-Time and Part-Time Jobs

As Britain moved from an élite to a mass higher education system in the 1980s and 1990s, the number of students with jobs increased. In some cases this was prompted by financial necessity, in part because the value of government subsidies for students' living expenses (called 'grants' in Britain) fell in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The relative decline in funding for higher education and the consequential increasing employment of students became hotly debated public policy issues in the 1990s. A survey carried out in 1995 for the National Union of Students ( NUS, 1996) concluded that students in higher education were being forced into part-time work, providing a million-strong pool of cheap labour for employers, but damaging their studies in the process.

However, it is clear that financial need has not been the sole, nor even the main driving force behind the rising trend in student jobs. First, student workrates have been increasing steadily for as far back as data are available, and the increases are found in all age groups, among men and women, among teenagers in secondary school as well as students in higher education. Second, all research to date in Britain and the USA shows that student workrates are, if anything, higher in the most affluent households and among the more able young people; there is no evidence that most students are pushed into taking jobs by low household income or parental unemployment. On the contrary, rising student employment reflects the changing social and economic status of young people and the changing relationship between education and employment. It is a complex and sociologically interesting phenomenon rather than a simple story of financial hardship.


STUDENT JOBS IN BRITAIN

Many secondary school teenagers have regular jobs delivering newspapers or helping in a shop on Saturdays.1 Others earn money through what is

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1
A 1982 survey of employment patterns in retail shops found that Saturday staff, usually schoolchildren, formed a significant component of the workforce in small independent shops, but were more numerous in national chain stores ( Craig and Wilkinson, 1985).

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