Record number of Belgians now working student jobs

Record number of Belgians now working student jobs
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An all-time record of 627,000 students are now in work, Le Soir reports, working cross the service sector but also in hospitals and receptions.

For the past ten years, the number of students choosing to supplement their studies with a job has been on the rise. Income from working a job can serve as an important lifeline for students struggling to make ends meet or wanting to build up savings for after graduation.

In 2012, there were 441,000 student workers across Belgium. In the space of ten years, this figure has increased by 42%, according to statistics from the National Social Security Office (ONSS). This is largely due to increasingly favourable legislation which allows students to work more hours.

At the start of this year, the government passed legislation which allowed for further extensions of working hours for students. Now, students can work up to 600 hours per year, compared to 475 in previous years. Few students reach this quota, with female students working on average 211 hours per year and male students 200 hours.

While students used to primarily work during the summer, this is no longer the case. Students are working throughout the academic year. According to a survey by temp agency Randstad, 75% of students who work during summer also do so throughout the year. This trend is confirmed by the ONSS, which says there are three times as many students working outside the holidays.

The official average hourly wage for a student worker now amounts to €13.4 per hour, according to the ONSS. Even at this lowest level of employment, Randstad says that there is a wage gap between men and women. According to the results of a survey, male students made on average €3,230 per year compared to €2,716 for women.

Unsurprisingly, the most common jobs for students are in the hospitality industry. Retail is the second most popular field. Female students are more likely to be found working at a checkout counter than male students, who tend to work more commonly in shelf stacking or behind-the-scenes logistics, the survey noted.

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Randstad says that despite the massive availability of students for work, some positions remain in desperate need of temporary workers. This means that students are rarely in competition with each other for positions, especially in the leisure and health sector.

50% of students say that they took a job to compensate for the rise in the cost of living. Students say that they use their wage to help finance leisure activities. Summer work also serves as a way for students to build up their CV, which is often invaluable post graduation.

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