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‘Desperate’ Part I student advertises her labour on eBay

Mature student Elaine Grimes has advertised herself on eBay in a desperate bid to find work

Grimes said after ‘constant rejections’ she decided to list herself on the online auction site in a ‘try before you buy’ bid to find work.

‘If it helps find a placement, and highlight the problems students of all ages face can only be good,’ she said.

The current Part I student at the Hull School of Art and Design said she had been recruited for a job which fell through due to the economy and job agencies had since told her they were not recruiting.

She added: ‘With rising fees and the long time to graduate it is not the same as other degrees. Without parental support it is hard. I am trying on my own and if life gets in the way you’re struggling.’

Grimes explained that any company hiring her as a result of the stunt would gain ‘Good Samaritan publicity’ if they wished.

Grimes is listed with a starting bid of 99 pence and there are currently no bids. The auction will end on 29 September.

Her listing said: ‘This winning bid will provide you my services for 1 month at the final winning bid, in a form of try before you buy.  This will permit you the opportunity to see if I am suited and that you wish to offer me an internship for the 6 to 12 month RIBA required placement.

‘You may be gaining an assistant for as little as 99p.  I am worth so much more to you.’

Elsewhere, 24-year-old east Londoner Debo Ajose-Adeogun has spent the last three years unemployed after graduating with a part I degree in architecture.

He told the Evening Standard: ‘I’ve made more than 250 applications for an entry-level position as a designer, architect’s assistant, surveyor or something in the housing construction sector but all I’ve managed is three unsuccessful interviews.’

He added: ‘It’s demoralising. After your 10th rejection you redouble your efforts, after your 50th you doubt yourself, after your 150th you feel worthless.’

Ajose-Adeogun said he was forced to take a ‘menial’ part-time job as a sales assistant at a clothing store for minimum wage.

In the three months to July the number of unemployed people aged between 16 and 24 increased by 7,000 to 1.02 million.

The UK’s 25 per cent youth unemployment rate compares to 17 per cent in the United States and eight per cent in Germany.

The overall UK unemployment in the same period fell by 7,000 to 2.59 million – equivalent to 8.1 per cent of the population. At 10.4 per cent unemployment was highest in the North East region.

In April the government launched a youth contract aimed at finding apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements for half a million 18 to 24 year olds. The work and pensions select committee has however raised concerns that the £2,275 wage incentives offered to companies may not be enough.

The committee chair, Labour MP for Aberdeen South Anne Begg, said: ‘Young people need effective support from government to counteract the disadvantage they have long suffered in the labour market but they also need a return to economic growth and a substantial increase in the number of new jobs.’

There are currently 845 architects claiming dole according to the latest NOMIS statistics. The figure – which has increased for the past three months – however fails to take account of architects unable to claim benefits and those forced to take up work in alternative fields.

The latest RIBA Future Trends sruvey meanwhile reported that practices were maintaining staff levels but there was  little sign of any immediate prospects of growth in overall recruitment.

A recent RIBA wage survey which aimed to draw attention to the challenges faced by architecture students found 14 per cent of pre-Part II students had worked unpaid and 7 per cent of Part II students had also gone without salary.

Meanwhile 14 per cent of students who were yet to attain their Part II qualification confessed to working unpaid, with 7 per cent who had obtained the diploma admitting to going without a salary.

The survey reported the average salary for paid placements pre-Part II students was equivalent to £17,250 per year. The Association of Graduate Recruiters however predicted the average graduate salary would increase this year by four per cent to £26,000.

In response to recommendations from the institute’s pay and conditions working group, the RIBA’s Chartered Practice criteria were amended in June 2011 to require that students undertaking PEDR-recorded work are paid at least the statutory minimum wage.

A seperate RIBA Appointments and Newcastle University survey found that part 1 students salary expectations are nearly £4,000 above what employers are willing to pay them upon graduation.

 

Factfile

The RIBA takes action against any chartered practices in contravention of the RIBA Chartered Practice Criteria, which states ‘Your practice must commit to paying at least the statutory minimum wage to architecture students working within the practice. These students must be undertaking experience which complies with the RIBA’s practical training rule, and should be completing appropriate records on the RIBA’s PEDR website as part of the accreditation criteria’.

 

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Paul McGrath

    Once again the RIBA's commitment to Part 2's and below working in the profession is shown to be trivial. If the 'value' the RIBA attributes to a graduate is only the minimum wage, it effectively gives Chartered Practices (and by example, other practices) permission to exploit highly educated 'students' as a cheap labour source.

    The RIBA must address the increasing reality that a degree or post-graduate qualification in architecture is virtually worthless without registration. It's high time the RIBA started to think of Part 2 as a destination and not just a stepping stone to other things.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Paul McGrath

    Once again the RIBA's commitment to Part 2's and below working in the profession is shown to be trivial. If the 'value' the RIBA attributes to a graduate is only the minimum wage, it effectively gives Chartered Practices (and by example, other practices) permission to exploit highly educated 'students' as a cheap labour source.

    The RIBA must address the increasing reality that a degree or post-graduate qualification in architecture is virtually worthless without registration. It's high time the RIBA started to think of Part 2 as a destination and not just a stepping stone to other things.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I'm a recently qualified Part III and have had to relocate to find work but am still not getting anywhere. Part I and II students are hardly anything to worry about in an oversubscribed jobs market, what about those of us who spent 10 years of their lives already trying to attain a certain level of job security and have to look for sales assistant positions to pay the mortgage? Universities need to look at the labour market and stop producing ridiculous numbers of graduates.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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