The city of Athens, GA is a community dominated by its university population, with 28% being University of Georgia (UGA) students alone (does not include surrounding college population). UGA is a high-profile research university whose reputation along with the city’s historical presence, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, yearly, collectively contributing $292.3 million in spending annually. Given the impact that university based tourism has on the Athens economy, entities such as the Conventions & Visitors Bureau (CVB) have put in place initiatives to attract more visitors to Athens. Initiatives such as these are meant to drive higher tourism based revenue, and are dependent on a larger workforce. Being sensitive to the fact that Athens is a “college town”, CVB’s effort is dependent on university students staffing new positions. As you might guess, in a town like Athens, student labor dependency is common for most business and yields an interesting set of labor issues.
Business communities such as described above are not unique to UGA. The dependency on student labor and student availability in a rigid work schedule creates a shortage of hours students can work. Hence, University based businesses (student-labor dependent businesses) in the service industry have and will continue to experience the effects of student availability to work issues as they try to maintain their daily operations. Furthermore, there are also issues from the student employee side. For example, the 20hr/week work limit placed on students on-campus and many other part-time jobs severely decreases the students’ earning potential by not making use of their available time. This leads to a decline in employee productivity, employee retention, and a breakdown in the delineation of tasks. Not addressing this problem of student availability has created a disconnect between the employer and employee at more than 4,726 colleges and universities nationally, giving rise to the need for a more flexible solution.
Though there are many staffing solutions that allow university based businesses to have a more flexible workforce, we have yet to find one that leverages the availability of their current & preferred workforce– students! UZO aims to bridge this gap by leveraging when students are available and matching student availability to businesses with open positions in surrounding university communities. This will solve the niche problem experienced by student-dependent businesses, while maximizing students earning potential during their time at a respective university.