The government will spend 2,4 billion ISK on creating summer jobs and providing summer school opportunities for students this summer. This was first done last year to combat the effect of the global pandemic on the economy but students criticised its execution.
This year, the government will spend 2.4 billion ISK towards creating temporary jobs for 2500 students 18 years and older, within government institutions, municipalities, and associations. Workplaces hiring students will receive funding for a full-time salary, up to 472,000 ISK per month (the limit for unemployment benefits) including 11.5 % for retirement funds for a duration of two and a half months. According to Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason, “it’s vital that as many students as possible will get a job this summer, where they will gain a valuable experience as well as creating value for the economy.”
In addition to the summer job program, the government will spend 650 million ISK to ensure the availability of summer studies this summer, 500 million to universities and 150 million to secondary schools. 650 secondary students attended summer school last year and just under 5000 university students. Finally, the Icelandic Student Innovation Fund issued 311 million ISK in grants, funding 206 projects and providing 351 students with work. The fund’s goal is to give universities, research institutes and companies a chance to hire undergraduate and master’s students for summer jobs in research and development.
Last year, The University of Iceland Student Council criticised the initiative for not meeting the requirements of students hit hard by the pandemic’s effect on the economy, claiming the jobs created were too few and too specialised to serve a large number of students. Student Council President Isabel Alejandra Diaz states that while students were thankful for the initiative, its execution was flawed. “This was supposed to benefit both University and secondary school students but most of the jobs required a year or two of University studies.” The Student Council hopes that the initiative could be more than a short-term solution and instead become a long-term program that would help university students find work in their field to gain valuable experience. The Council claimed that students’ interests would be better served by allowing them to qualify for unemployment benefits and to raise the basic subsistence allowance within the student loan system. They also criticised the duration of the program as last year, the initiative funded student jobs for two months, which wasn’t enough to cover the whole summer. This year, the jobs will cover two and a half months but the jobs available to students are yet to be revealed. The Government’s press release does note that authorities will keep a close eye on how the initiative progresses to ensure that students won’t be without work or means of subsistence this summer.
The government’s press notice also states that they are continuing their efforts to raise the basic subsistence allowance for subsistence loans while noting that basic subsistence allowance has increased more than inflation but haven’t kept up with overall increased purchasing power. “Work on bridging this gap is ongoing and an important step in this direction is planned for the coming weeks. Suggestions on the matter will be introduced to the Minister of Education and Culture before May 1.”