14 May 2024

Full-time work for free: students call for placements to be paid

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 14 May 2024
Blood pressure check

Photo: Pexels

There's a push for student trainees to be paid while on their compulsory job placements - as many drop out due to cost of living pressures.

The New Zealand Association of Social Workers says 45% of students who start a qualification don't finish it, in large part due to the 120-day placement required. Many vocations, including nursing, medicine, midwifery, social work and teaching, require some on-the-job experience before one can become qualified. This work is unpaid.

Masters student Bex Howells is leading a petition to change that, saying students are doing full work weeks for free - leaving little time for a paying job, to cover the bills. As well as the 45% dropout rate for social work students, 25% of those who start a nursing qualification also don't finish it. The rate for Pasifika nursing students is 37%.

Petition organiser Bex Howells and Medical Students Association president Indira Fernando speak with Kathryn Ryan.