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Got Any Saturday Jobs?

When I was a teenager, most of my friends and I, by the time we were 15, had Saturday jobs. If not on a Saturday, these jobs were either after school or during the holidays.

To me it was more about earning extra ‘pennies’. But I built a foundation of skills for work (which is central in my present day-to-day work) including team work, customer care and having responsibilities as an individual employee.

However I am now finding there are fewer opportunities for teenagers to gain vital work experience whilst they are at school. For example the retail industry tends to plan their staffing over a seven day period, resulting in both full and part time staff covering the shifts. As a consequence there are fewer opportunities for teenagers to be given jobs and to acquire essential skills and expertise for the future.

In years gone by, as teenagers we would walk into a shop, even the large retail shops, and make enquires about part- time work.  This is how I got my Saturday job in a bakery shop and I can still name the different types of bread and cakes, from your Bloomers to your Belgium Buns!

Even local jobs are now advertised online and some ask a series of questions before they consider asking the individual to an interview.  Most of these questions, though relevant, actually act as a barrier for many teenagers. Hence I favour the old approach of young people having the confidence of being able to walk into a shop or company and speak to the manager and ask if they have any suitable part-time jobs.

Now that schools are more academically driven and there is less time for practical skills, it is essential that our young people learn these skills within the workplace. In addition, this taps into their creative and entrepreneurial skills. A friend, when her son was 15, asked his school if they could do a ‘mock interview’ to prepare him for his college interview. Amazingly, they said that they did not have the time to do this!

Yes, most young people in year 10 have a two week work placement in secondary school. This, in my opinion, is not enough to give our young people a sense of the realities of working. There are a number of students who start university life who have never worked at all! Also, very sadly, there is an increasing number of young people who are currently not in employment, education or training (NEET).

We need to encourage children when they become teenagers that working increases their confidence and they can add this onto their CV as real life experience. There needs to be more opportunities for part time work for them such as a Saturday job in a local bakery or butcher shop. My sister started off working a couple of evenings in a local chemist and then she went on to have a part time job in Marks and Spencer, before training as a nurse. I am sure the experience in both these sectors gave her fundamental skills in canadian medicine and patient care.

On the other hand, my son didn’t get his first experience of paid work until he was 17, which was at an annual royal event as a ‘litter collector.’ He has now done this twice and says he will do it again this year. I told him he can state on his CV that he has expertise in ‘grounds maintenance!’ Last year it rained on the days that he did this and he came home soaked right the way through, but he still went back the next day, demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Employees also need to trust teenagers to work for them and value what a young person can bring to their business. I would like to see the retail industry and other sectors prioritising Saturday and part time work for teenagers aged 15 plus and making the application process accessible to the age, stage and ability of the teenager.

In addition, companies should be encouraged, as part of their corporate and social responsibility, to provide more paid and unpaid work experience for teenagers. For example summer schemes could be set up where a range of companies pay teenagers £10:00 per day for doing voluntary work in their companies. This will help give teenagers a sense of purpose and belonging, which currently some of them they do not have. This could also act as a road for some of our teenagers into an apprentice with the company. A few years ago I personally devised training for teenagers to work in summer play schemes with younger children. This was successful and as well as creating an intergenerational feel it gave a sense of purpose for the teenagers involved. Sadly, two years ago, the funding was cut, ending these opportunities.

I suppose the message to our young people should be not to worry about their first job but to see this as the first step in their long term career path. Nor should they think that it needs to be in a prominent business. What matters is that they start somewhere. As the song states: ‘It’s not where you start but where you finish!

So, come on Government, what are you doing to support our teenagers and make a difference to their long term future?

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26 Comments

  • Shelagh Willis

    You’re so right Laura, my daughter has had a Saturday job in a dry cleaners since she was 14, she just turned 16. She has also done some babysitting and has £600 in her account! She has always had to save her own money for Christmas presents etc which she does well. As a result the next daughter who is 12 can’t wait to be 13 and get a paper round, then hopes to take over from her sister at the dry cleaners.
    My children know that getting a weekend job is something I would like them to do. Most of my children’s friends rely on their parents for lots of money with nothing in return. We can help our kids to get jobs, encourage them, build their confidence to ask, use our contacts which is what I have done but then its up to them to do the work.
    Being in the work place early on is valuable experience for life.

  • laurachildcarel

    Indeed, Shelagh. Great expereince for your daughter! 🙂

  • Sue jones

    Inspired by Laura’s blog I spoke to my own 15 year old daughter whether she would be interested in 10 pounds wages per day for work experience! ‘Absolutely’ she screeched and so would everyone on my GCSE course! Next thing I know I am drafting a letter to offer School students the opportunity to learn first hand how their theory courses transpire to practical every day work experience! The more I think about it I really think Laura has a point…. If we grasp students interests from an early age we can mould our future generation of childcare practitioners by inspiring them and getting them to realise education is the beginning to a wonderful rewarding career. Thanks Laura for the lightbulb moment x

    • laurachildcare

      Thanks, Sue! Great that you have acted on this so quickly. Can you image how many young people’s lives we can make a difference to if every employer takes on this initiative?

      Making a difference to young people! 🙂

  • Winston Goode

    Great article, but it does make you wonder how are young people going to hone their employability skills with just two weeks of work experience. We say young people are the future and the next creative generation so lets put our money where our mouth is….keep up the good work Laura, I’m totally behind you especially as my son is currently looking for his first part time job.

  • Claire Young

    An excellent article, lots of common sense and practical solutions which would benefit businesses AND young people. I work with schools across the country and work experience & part time jobs are a constant issue. Students want them and there just aren’t the opportunities!

  • Saffia

    I agree totally! I had lot of part time jobs when I was a teenager, starting out in a school kitchen and moving to bar work when I was a student. This experience was really important to me in many ways and I will be encouraging my children to do the same when they are older – as you so validly point out, I just hope the opportunities are there!

  • laurachildcare

    Great, Saffia! Thanks for sharing.

  • janet Mwitiki

    It always inspires my life whenever i read your articles that are meant to help our children and the youth too . I have my son aged 13 years old and in his high school and this too is an encouragement for him to start this over the school holidays

  • Neil Blumsom

    As a parent (my youngest is 14) as well as a Workforce Development Officer, I agree with your sentiment fully.

    I’m proud to mention the Junior Leaders scheme in Kingston which runs in conjunction with YMCA to give young people the exact opportunities you have mentioned by working in holiday playschemes.

    The Junior Leaders scheme enables young people aged 13-15 years who have an interest in working with children aged 4-11 years the opportunity to volunteer for two weeks of their summer holiday.
    The scheme was designed to help 13-15 year olds develop leadership skills, promote team working and the opportunity to gain experience.
    During the two weeks, Junior Leaders will undertake a variety of tasks and will have the opportunity to receive training on child protection, safe play practice, health & safety, working as a team and programme planning. The practical experience encompasses shadowing staff, planning and delivery of activities, lead sessions, play with the children and above all have fun!
    Throughout the scheme, the Junior Leaders will work alongside experienced staff members with supervision from a mentor, Junior Leaders will build up a portfolio which will include personal accounts of the scheme, details of activities devised and implemented and certificates for training attended and completion of the scheme.
    A celebration ceremony will be held at the end of the summer, where the Junior Leaders will make a small presentation and will be presented with their portfolios and certificates of attendance.
    Places are limited on the scheme and entry is by application only. We are particularly interested in young people who would really benefit from the scheme.

    We are currently working on expanding this scheme working with local employers to provide more of these opportunities.

  • Rachel Jones

    Hi Laura

    I totally agree with you as you are aware, I invest much time in inspiring and raising aspiration in young people and here is a little of what I am doing:-

    I have launched a programme ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’ and following a successful pilot earlier this year, am looking forward to rolling it out in September throughout Cornwall.

    Already go into Schools and Colleges as a Speaker to advise and support young people on their journey.

    Attend Learner Led Events up to six times per year with Colleges who are proactive in teaching employability skills.

    Work weekly with a local school on the Young Enterprise programme.

    Support young people with business start up.

    Create innovative networking opportunities for young people with positive role models.

    Encourage work experience opportunities and encourage others to do so.

    We all have a duty to give something back, help shape the future. If anyone asks what keeps you awake at night, just invest a little of your time in supporting young people, and your answer will be “I sleep well at night”.

  • neil farmer

    Excellent article Laura, and sadly so true. How how our young people to learn about responsibility, automony and those key ingredients to emotional health and self worth. Just makes you think what we are storing up for the furure in this supposed “enlightened age”. We are deskilling our children every day and then expect them to act in a grown up manner – sheer madness!!

  • Erika

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post Laura! The levels of young people who find themselves NEET is one of the biggest social problems faced by our society today. Offering children the opportunity to build entry level work skills is the only way I can see to reduce these numbers and equip the future generation with the skills they need to succeed! With multiple recessions behind us and the possibility of more to come, leaving us with fewer entry level jobs than ever before, encouraging young people to volunteer, work within CSR schemes or create their own enterprises with support and guidance is the only way to go…
    The work being done currently by people like and including the previous posters on this blog is great!! I’d love to see if there is a way we can join our efforts rather than working independently creating a solution that could be adopted nationwide?

  • Tina Boden

    Laura this is a great blog; the school my youngest son (age 14) attends no longer do work placement but he does have a paper round 7 days a week which helps to teach him some great work ethic principles.

    As you said above we need to work together to make a difference for our young people. I am third generation self-employed and have run my own businesses since the age of 21; much of what I have used in my business life was taught to me in my teens working in my parents business and also in other part time holiday job or weekend work roles. It is really important that young people get the opportunity to learn these skills as soon as possible and it is extremely important they learn them in a practical not academic environment.

  • Asti C

    That’s a great article Laura, thank you for putting it together. In the age of competition we somehow overlook the need of preparing our children for the basic human/social skills which have an equally important role to play in their professional growth later. Especially in the developing countries, the focus of education remains on developing ‘sharp brains’ by stuffing as many new concepts and technologies as possible in the tender minds of young. Neither the educational nor the social systems care about the holistic growth of young minds in making of responsible citizens. Schools hardly think about offsetting all the inherent confusions in overloaded brains with the simplicity of practical learning. I love Richard Branson’s thoughts on the entrepreneurship lessons at the school level, i.e. allowing students to run a business to learn the business – oh! I can imagine how wonderful that could be, I would want to get back to the school myself and be part of that learning curve I have missed on!

    The part time jobs that you have mentioned about are indeed on the similar lines of making more responsible, much confident and well directed entrepreneurs and employees of tomorrow. Needless to say, a systematic approach would be required to unleash the benefits without compromising on the actual education.

  • Franklin

    Thanks Laura Henry, you’re great. I love experimental education. Theories aren’t going far these days. We’re friends on Facebook. Thanks for your inspiring articles.

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