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Why school children should be able to have a Saturday job

The benefits of working part time while in full-time education are well documented

Once the rite of passage many young teenagers longed for, Saturday jobs for school-age children are more of an oddity than the norm in the 21st century.

The benefits of working part time while in full-time education are well documented, so why are the numbers of young people pursuing this opportunity dropping and what effect will this have on their future – especially post-Brexit – employment prospects?

Delivering papers, serving in shops, washing dishes in a cafe or stacking shelves in a supermarket – until the 1980s, it was not terribly difficult for a full-time school student to earn some hard cash at the weekend. Three decades later, around 60 per cent fewer do the same.

Missing out

This means thousands of young people are not getting the opportunity to access the obvious benefits of a Saturday job, such as the value of hard-earned money, commitment, discipline, and fitting into a work team. This is a situation that Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey is not happy about.

Acknowledging that a major possible factor in this change could be increased educational achievement goals that eat into a student’s free time rather than sheer idleness, Ms McVey remains concerned. Without such opportunities, young people miss out on what is – in a world with so much online or distant communication methods – the key skill of managing social interaction with both an employer and, where applicable, colleagues and the public.

The barriers

One popular explanation for the shortage of part-time work opportunities for schoolchildren is the increased workload and pressure they have to deal with during the academic year.

This is a particular problem for students trying to juggle a weekend job with more hours and responsibilities than average; however, perhaps the biggest roadblock is the strict legal framework that governs the employment of the under 16s. Stricter rules and regulations often make it too difficult for employers who are keen to give young people a chance to actually offer them a job.

The benefits

Regular part-time work experience gives a school or college leaver much more than extra money, providing something meaty for their resume along with a reference. Many in the 13-15 age group desperately want to work but are thwarted by restrictions intended to protect them at the expense of what could be gained.

For some, this conundrum is managed by looking for seasonal work instead, making the most of the summer holidays. Others sadly miss out on the openings throughout the year that many employers are keen to offer.

As Brexit approaches and opportunities in the job market change, it is more vital than ever to revise this situation and look for ways in which these young people who are keen to work do not have to miss out on the chance of securing a brighter future.

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