The long-held practice of students taking up part-time work along with university studies to help with their living expenses was largely put to a halt when the country entered its first COVID-19 lockdown. As only essential services were allowed to stay on, people employed in non-essential services were laid-off.
As the nation has been under restrictions for over a year now, students have diverted to other forms of part-time work which earlier were not too popular like retail and restaurant part-time jobs were. Healthcare centres especially have seen an ascend in this regard. Chanelle Davidtz, human resource leader with Home-instead, told the Tribune that ‘the institute has experienced a huge jump in the number of students enrolling for part-time caregiver positions.’
There are also certain university jobs such as teaching assistants, social media coordinators, library assistants etc. that can be taken up by the students. However, there are only a handful of such positions available.
Other forms of part-time work that saw a raise were remote work. COVID-19 ushered with an unprecedented opportunity for students to acquire new skills/develop on a skill they already possessed. Fields such as graphic designing, computer programming, and financial reporting created flexible remote working avenues available to students.
However, despite the alternative opportunities mentioned in the former, many students are still seeking work. With the vaccine administration, Ireland plans to gradually exit the curfews with which businesses such as retail stores, malls, restaurants, and pubs would reopen. This would create ample new opportunities and vacancies for students to apply for.
Nonetheless, due to the uncertainty and risk of entering another lockdown, retail owners would be dubious of employing new people. This also constitutes a likelihood of employers negotiating lower salaries and worse working conditions to students knowing that there is a lack of vacancies in the market and that students depend on the money for living expenses.
With the support of the government through the pandemic unemployment payment, the burden of expenses is most definitely reduced. The drawback of this scheme is that only those who were previously employed and were thereafter laid-off qualify for this payment leaving the ones who did not get an opportunity to apply for jobs in quandary. An alternative all-inclusive solution would be initiatives by the supermarkets to help students with grocery bills and school supplies. Upon exploring the situation with multiple perspectives, what is bound to incur with the state of part-time work as businesses reopen cannot be implied with certainty. With all this in mind, it is reasonable to remain hopeful for a surge in part-time position openings and students to gain financial independence.
Aanchal Gupta – Business Writer