Students Keep Busy, Give Back at Summer Work School

The School of Work was established with the mission of providing young people with something to do over the summer and, more broadly, to prepare them for the labour market. The first School of Work was opened in Reykjavík in 1951, but since then, many towns around the country have followed suit with their own schools. This week, RÚV spoke to spoke to students at Árbæjarskóli who are taking part in the popular program.

Outdoor work, positive messages

The School of Work is open to students in 8th – 10th grade. Per the City of Reykjavík website, its main function “is to provide students…with constructive summer jobs, as well as education in a safe working environment.” All work is paid and takes place outdoors, and most jobs focus on small public service projects—gardening and maintenance. Hours depend on the student’s age; 8th grades work 3.5 hours a day, either in the morning or afternoon, while 9th and 10th graders work full, seven-hour shifts. Generally, participants are grouped with students from their school, although not necessarily their close friends, as organizers “believe it is healthy for everyone to meet new people and work with someone other than their closest friends.”

In addition to their work duties, students participate in discussions and team-building games lead by peer educators from Hitt Húsið’s Peer Education Center. These activities “seek, among other things, to enhance the teenagers’ self-image.”

Helps students get used to the responsibility of having a job

Students Ólöf and Jón weeded, designed, and replanted a flower bed at the Árbær Open Air Museum. This is the bed before. (Photo via Vinnuskóli Reykjavíkur, FB)

“I applied mainly to earn money to go abroad and have something to spend, and also just to have something to do over the summer,” said Hera Arnadóttir. Hera said the Work School is pretty fun, although she doesn’t like the spiders and bugs.

Students Ólöf and Jón weeded, designed, and replanted a flower bed at the Árbær Open Air Museum. This is the bed after. (Photo via Vinnuskóli Reykjavíkur, FB)

Oddur Sverrisson was busy pulling up chickweed when approached for an interview. He said the Work School is important for young people because it provides them with a routine, teaches them how to manage the money they earn, and get used to the responsibility of having a job.

More Young People Apply for Summer Work School in North Iceland

The Akureyri Work School, which provides summer work for young people in the North Iceland town doing a variety of public improvement projects, has had 50% more applications this year than last, RÚV reports. A total of 696 young people applied for work opportunities through the work school; all applicants to the program are guaranteed paid work this summer.

The Akureyri Work School offers paid summer work opportunities for students who are 14, 15, 16-17, and 18-25 years old. The highest increase was among 17-year-old students: 126 in 2020, versus 38 last summer.

As the school received more applications than expected, it revised the parameters of its summer programs and in some cases, reduced the total number of summer working hours for an age bracket but extended the time period over which the hours would be completed in order to ensure that young people remain active throughout the summer.

Fourteen-year-old participants in the program will be offered 105 working hours over the summer; 15-year-olds, 120 hours; 16-year-olds 140 hours. The oldest age group, 17-year-olds, will be given 200 hours of work over the whole summer period. The municipality has also authorized 100 special summer jobs within institutions, museums, or companies to be opened to young people aged 18-25 and 121 applications were received for these positions.