No money, no caption 🙂
Having been irked by Sunshine’s post on the issue, I think it is only fair that I post some thoughts on the subject of student work. First, the very basics. Slovenia has two parallel labour markets. The “regular” one and another one, reserved solely for students. The theory behind it is, that the student labour market should function both as a social corrective for undepriviliged studensts and as an organised scalp hunting ground, where students would meet their prospective employers and vice versa.
Students in Slovenia enjoy numerous benefits, cheif among them are social and health insurance paid by the state. This plays an important role in hiring students as a temp-workforce, since employers don’t have to pay for students’ social and health services, nor do students contribute to the public pension fund. Furthermore, students’ income is not subject to taxation unless it reaches the income census (some € 6600 on a yearly basis). So both students and employers are keen to enter the student labour market.
This is all theory, of course. The question is, does it work in pratice? Well, you might be surprised, but it actually does. Students either find summer-, temp-, or even full time jobs on student labour market, thus greatly improving their income and quality of life – not to mention accumulation experience and generating contacts which might come in handy when they’ll need a “real” job.
Well, it works most of the time, anyway. The problem is that employers are obviously keen on cutting down cost of labour so they tend to take full advantage of the student labour market. So if you’re young and looking for a regular job, the first thing your prospective employer will ask you if you can work on “napotnica”, which is a euphemism of employing you as a student, rather than giving you a full time job.
For the uninitiated: a “napotnica” is a slip of paper (in quadruplicate) which serves as a proof of employement, as a report of student’s work and as a student’s summary of income earned. It is in fact the only paperwork you need to employ a student. It is also much more of a hassle to deal with than it seems at first.
This obviously de-stimulates the would-be employees, who are looking for a real job, which brings other benefits, chief among them the fact that you can a) finally apply for a credit line at a bank and b) start accumulating years of employment, which will after decades of hard work make you eligible for a pension (albeit a meagre one). Most of the time young people – especially those who are not, how shall I put it, cremé de la cremé (and I’m being euphemistic here) – will take any job, as long as it brings money. Mostly because they know that if they don’t, someone else will. The employers are obviously aware of this fact and are often willing to wait for the “cheapest” candidate and not the one with most potential.
On the other hand, the employers are experiencing a growing trend of self-important students, who will not take the job unless it pays an expected ammount of money. The students (and I’m talking about students here, and not young people looking for full time jobs) are taking full advantage of the fact that employers will rather employ a student than give the job to a non-student, for the reasons cited above. So what we have here is prospective employers want to (but don’t have to) employ students as cheap labour and prospective employees (studens) who want to (but don’t have to) work. And in the end it comes down to a neo-liberalist’s dream. A lassez-faire labour market, the likes of which Ležalnik advocated while commenting on Michael M.’s rant on taxes
Which of course only works for as long as you need highly educated but almost totally unskilled workforce. In the long run this spells doom both for students and for the comapnies hiring them. When students run out of options for student work (for the reasons cited at the beginning), they suddenly find out how hard it is to get a real job, because they’re 26 years old, don’t have a single year of work experience (only years in which you have contributed to the pension fund count, officially), most of the jobs they can apply for are already taken by other – younger – students, and there they stand, suddenly realizing that they’re half-way to mid-life crisis, with nothing to show for and a distant prospect of retiring at the tender age of 66 at the earliest.
I know, I’ve been there.
So my advice to students would be to find a student job and then to do your damnest to keep it full-time at least for a couple of years. It’ll make you hugely popular with people from human resources departaments and give you the edge against your competition.
My advice to HRM people: stop going ga-ga over student workforce. Yes, you can hire five students for one full-time employee, but they are also five times less reliable in the long run, because they have to deal with exams, heartbreak, long summer breaks, hangover and/or Weltschmertz. Yes, they’re easier to fire, but then you just have to go through the entire process again. Is it really worth it?
And my advice to employers: Student work force saves you the monies you’d have to spend of social- and health care, but you only spend 16% out of worker’s gross paycheck on
Sozialversiecherung Sozialversicherung. The remaining 22 % go out of workers’ pocekts, so you’re better off. Plus, you can squeeze a “regular” worker harder then you could ever squeeze a student. Because if you ask that little extra of a student, he/she will usually claim exams, heartbreak, long summer breaks, hangover and/or Weltschmertz.
Oh, and I do have one favour to ask of the government: Could you, by any chance, cook up something more than just token incentives for employing people full-time? Pretty please? You know, since it is an election year, and all… 😈