Go Higher: The North - Finding work that suits you

The North: There's plenty of part-time work to be had in the North - and a `job shop' will help you find it. By Heather Welford
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Most students take some form of paid work in term time as well as in vacations, and research by the National Union of Students has tracked an especially rapid growth in the past five years.

"They're doing this to avoid a large financial debt on graduation, as well as helping survival during their time as a student," says Paul Cullinan, of Unitemp "job shop" at Liverpool John Moores University student union. Paul has been instrumental in setting up a national body to support and co-ordinate local student job shops.

They've grown a lot all over the North to meet the demand from students, and to put employers in touch with the suitable part-timers and temporary workers. A number of new job shops are set to start up this coming term. The National Association of Student Employment Staff (NASES) aims to put job shops in touch with each other and as a result encourage good practice and some standardisation which will, it's hoped, go some way to protect students from exploitation. Currently 40 to 70 per cent of students take on some work in term times, and up to 90 per cent work in the vacations. These figures are likely to go on rising as money pressures increase on all students with fees to pay and the phasing out of grant assistance.

You might find your job shop is called something different - it's "Steam" in Manchester - and it may be run by your student union, the careers service or by the university's student or education services. As well as helping you find a job, it should give you advice on employment rights and wages, and actively try to match the right student to the right job. There's no fee to you, and your wages will be paid direct by your employer.

Job shops normally have a permitted maximum of hours worked - usually 17-and-a-half, according to Paul Cullinan - agreed with the university, to ensure no one is working more hours than is compatible with academic work. "More often, students work 10 hours a week or less," he says.

In addition, there are other innovative schemes which aim to put students to work on projects which may have relevance to the course they're on or their future career.

Business Bridge in Liverpool works in the three higher education institutions in the city and has branches in each of them. Funded by money from the European Regional Development Fund, the scheme links employers to students who want to work part-time, with a possible full-time option for the holiday periods. Typically, a project lasts about 21 days and is with a small- or medium-sized enterprise.

Community Bridge is a parallel scheme, but it collaborates with local charities, finding student volunteers to carry out business projects to enhance the charities' work.

Throughout the North, students work in bars and restaurants, with wages starting at pounds 3.20-pounds 3.50 an hour, but there are a growing number of other opportunities too.

On Merseyside, Tyneside and in Leeds, the growth of the call centre has led to students taking up part-time posts in the evenings and at weekends. After training in some of the more specialist areas, such as banking or financial services, they can earn as much as pounds 7.50 an hour. The hours are flexible, and students who want to avoid the late nights of bar work prefer it.

Students in Preston, at the University of Central Lancashire, get vacation and weekend jobs in nearby Blackpool. If you're going to study in Sheffield, you can have a day out (or more) at the races, as Doncaster race course hires part-timers for its catering operation.

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