The few, the lucky – the student employees

Demand for on-campus positions has skyrocketed. Even though many students seek jobs, fewer openings are available in the current economy and increased competition makes it difficult to find work.

A job is a necessity for nearly half of UVU students and many others work at least part-time. According to a 2009 student survey conducted by the UVU Institutional Research office, 46 percent of students depend on their own income as their main means of paying for school. 72 percent of our student body claims to be employed while attending school.

Being able to work on campus is a huge benefit to a student. A single commute reduces travel time and lowers transportation costs, not to mention possibly reducing car or bus emissions. It lets a student quickly travel between class and work and work with an employer that understands the school schedule.

New jobs are slowly opening to students, but the increase is not enough to keep pace with demand.

Laura Carlson, the campus student employment manager, says there’s been a sharp increase in demand for on-campus work since 2008. Whereas some student jobs had to be filled from outside the university just four years ago, they are now seeing two dozen applications for a single position within hours of its posting on the job board.

A wide gap exists in student employment between Utah’s state and private universities. At state schools, such as UVU and WSU, the number of student positions available are limited. Each of these two schools boasts an enrollment of around 23,000 and 30,000 students, respectively.

Out of this population, both universities claim between 1,600 and 1,800 students working on-campus, or roughly 6 percent of the student bodies.

This disproportion between UVU and the rest of the state is due not to a lack of student interest in on campus jobs, but of limitations in the budget.

Then across town an entirely different employment structure is used by a private institution: BYU.

This fall, enrollment for the school is listed at just less than 30,000. BYU’s Manager of Student Employment, Collette Blackwelder, said that the university employs approximately 13,000 students in the fall and winter semesters. That’s over 40 percent of the student body.

These students fill roles covering anything from grounds crews and event staffing to laundry and custodial services. Many entry-level jobs are being filled by students, with full-time employees providing management and supervision.

Here at UVU, entry-level jobs are more often filled by part-time or full-time state employees. While that comes with state benefits, they have to go through the state employment process, which takes additional time and more money. This strains the already stretched budget. Additionally, students have to compete in a very thin job market because they are forced to go off campus, due to funding and state employees filling these positions.

From the school’s standpoint, a student costs less in the form of benefits and their position can be filled faster, as it doesn’t use the strict hiring requirements for state employees.

According to Carlson, this university is already one of the most efficient schools in Utah. The administration is keenly aware of the need to use state tax funds and student tuition as wisely as possible.

The university is sitting on a large, talented and willing employment pool that is on its campus every day. It would save the school money overall and the benefit it would provide to students is an extremely welcome bonus.

With the current system, the school can do very little to help students provide for themselves as the economy takes a turn for the worst. As much as the staff in human resources and the school administration want to help and serve the student body, there is no way to do so, especially without additional state funding.

Take the steps now while the opportunity exists to change that. Adopt the employment system that the private university has proven works and take advantage of the work force potential lying unused at your feet. Here we are, let us work!

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