The purpose of this study is to evaluate the size and composition of the student labour force in order to consider its potential impact on labour markets in the European Union. The paper is based on an analysis of EU Labour Force Survey data from 2011, supplemented by the findings of the EUROSTUDENT project.
The structure of student labour is discussed within the framework of the so-called ‘crowding-out’ literature, which identifies competition for jobs between students and low educated non-students, particularly in the retail and wholesale sectors.
In contrast to these assumptions, the authors found that, depending on the age of the student, the profile of student workers closely matches that of non-students with medium- to-high educational attainment. In general, the retail and wholesale sectors are of importance in the employment of students under the age of 25, but students typically take positions in the middle of the occupational hierarchy, rather than in the lower-grade positions. Meanwhile, older students, often professionals furthering their education while studying, are typically located in similar jobs and sectors to university graduates.
A common trait of student work is its very high degree of flexibility compared to that of non-students. Nevertheless, the structure of student labour does not lead us to believe that student workers are particularly prone to be present in the precarious segment of the labour market.
Miroslav Beblavý is Senior Associate Research Fellow and Brian Fabo is a Researcher in the Economy and Finance research area at CEPS. For a more succinct version of this paper, please see their CEPS Commentary entitled “Are student workers a threat or a solution?”, 17, July 2015.