Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/506/3299
The Socialist 17 October 2007 |
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Stop the placement rip-off now!
Bosses are having a field day with free student labour. Young people studying on vocational courses are asked to complete a number of hours in a workplace to receive their qualification.
Leonora Fawcett, Suffolk
Students receive no money for these placements; however students are doing the same job that paid staff are doing.
This is especially true with students studying health, social care and child care. In this sector, where workers are often over-worked and under-paid, students are relied on to get day-to-day tasks done.
Although under-18s are not supposed to do personal care, in many care homes students help bear the load by getting residents bathed and dressed without, in my experience, any or much training.
In my placement last summer six students were in at one time. Students are asked to complete at least 100 hours in each placement which adds up to at least 600 hours free labour for that company.
There is a feeling amongst students that the work placement is doing them a 'favour' and this leads to students not raising points about safety, ranging from issues such as not knowing what to do in the event of a fire to being asked to lift a service user.
Students on vocational courses are traditionally from working-class backgrounds and many take on part-time jobs to ensure that they can fund their studies.
Many already work over the recommended eight hours a week as the £30 a week EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance) for under-19s and Adult Learning grant for over-19s fails to meet our needs (which aren't exactly extravagant).
This and the pressure to complete as many placement hours as quickly as possible mean many are almost working full-time which affects their studies.
Workers in these sectors are looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our society and receive little reward. All students deserve a living allowance and to be paid for any work that they do on vocational courses.
Work experience is vital for students working in this sector but residential homes, nurseries and other work placements need to be properly funded.
Students in the care and health sector must link up with workers to fight for better wages, working hours and conditions!