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'The real Living Wage is essential for supporting students': University of the Arts London

Paying students the real Living Wage is essential for supporting the next generation of creative talent. 

Living and studying in London is not without its challenges, no more so than for those who are early on in their career. With the ongoing rises in the cost of living, the explosion of rental prices in the capital and mounting bills following the festive period, we’re proud to have committed to paying our pool of more than 10,000 candidates at least the London Living Wage.

UAL Arts Temps is the University of the Arts London’s recruitment agency, partnering with employers to source temporary and permanent work opportunities for our pool of more than 10,000 creative students and alumni. This gives our candidates the opportunity to develop real-life experience and hone their creative practice whilst helping to fill emerging skills gaps for employers looking to grow, with recent external roles as diverse as Photographers and Illustrators to Actors and Social Media Executives.

Paying the London Living Wage is a cornerstone of our social purpose and essential to our commitment to being an ethical employer. Creative UK (Formerly the Creative Industries Federation) highlighted the scale of underpaying in the arts sector, highlighting that for more than 80% of creatives, taking unpaid work was ‘normal’ for them.[1] Very few, if any, other sectors would subject their emerging talent to these practices, and UAL Arts Temps is keen to help provide the solution to this.

The recent increase in the real Living Wage (£9.90 nationally and £11.05 in London) is vital for our workforce, with analysis by the Living Wage Foundation showing that 77% of those aged 18-24 saying their pay had been lowered for reasons relating to the pandemic in the past year.[2]

In the past 18 months, the reduction in creative opportunities has been keenly felt by people starting out in their careers, especially those in the creative sector. Our own candidates have told us how much of a lifeline it has been to work whilst receiving the London Living Wage.[3] This is in part why we are so proud to have paid out more than £3.4M in wages to our students and graduates in 2019/20, providing them with a vital source of income during and after their studies, as well as valuable experience to help start their careers.

This time last year, our candidates proved their flexibility by shifting out of these creative roles, and into being Processing Operatives, delivering more than 3,300 Covid Tests over six days at our pop-up Testing Centre in Kings Cross.[1] This phenomenal effort demonstrates for me even more so why it is important to commit to paying the real Living Wage. The ability of our talented pool of candidates to adapt to these new working challenges, to demonstrate creativity in tackling real world issues, is a valuable and much needed skillset. Paying the London Living Wage is the very least we can do to recognise the value of this talent.

Through our end-to-end recruitment service offer, we ensure that the sector partners and employers we work with also commit to the real Living Wage. We are always keen to speak with potential hirers across the creative and non-creative sectors who share our commitment to this and are keen to work with and our students and graduates.

Becoming a Living Wage Employer has been a rewarding and worthwhile experience for UAL Arts Temps, and a lifeline for our students and graduates. If you share our commitment to paying a fair wage to those at the very start of their career, then get in touch!

Sam Taylor, General Manager at UAL Arts Temps, discusses why it’s important to pay students and alumni the real Living Wage, especially when starting out in the creative industries.



[1] Freelancers 1.0.pdf



14th January 2022
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