Do Saturday jobs give kids an education which no school can provide?

PUBLISHED: 12:04 07 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:39 07 January 2016

Columnist Rachel Moore
 says getting a Saturday job has more long term value than cramming facts for exam results. 

Picture: James Bass

Columnist Rachel Moore says getting a Saturday job has more long term value than cramming facts for exam results. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

Our columnist Rachel Moore takes issue with the decline in the number of teenagers doing Saturday jobs.

There’s something very wrong when learning takes precedence over doing and theory is valued over experience.

The great tradition of Saturday jobs is dying as teenagers bow to demands for good grades and A* exam performance and can’t spare a few hours a week away from studying.

The number of school pupils serving in cafés, washing up in restaurants and stacking shelves in shops has dropped to an all-time low because they are warned that a day a week away from their books could ruin their future prospects.

Instead, teenagers lie in bed on Saturday mornings putting off their homework and waiting for a cash handout from the bank of mum and dad without doing anything to earn it.

Who needs a job when mum’s purse or dad’s wallet is a cash dispenser? It’s so wrong.

A Saturday job is about so much more than the few quid earned. It offers independence and valuable insight into how to survive and operate in a workplace – and that so important experience employers always ask for.

Speak to any employer. They would always choose someone who has held down a job for a few hours a week alongside their studies, turned up on time and performed reliably to one who has locked herself away to boast a string of top grades but nothing else.

Learning how to be an employee is a vital life skill – how to deal with customers, some difficult, some rude, listening to and carrying out instructions, biting your lip to idiotic colleagues and, often, accepting the bottom is where most jobs start. Learning to play the game of work.

It’s about appreciating how money has to be earned, learning about the competition to find a job and acquiring a maturity, which will serve long into life and be far more useful long-term than cramming facts for exams.

Discouraging teenagers to seek Saturday jobs is shortsighted and narrow-minded.

Putting studies before a Saturday job is getting priorities all wrong and skewed values. It’s not the real world.

Oxbridge would say different – but it makes no secret that its interest in an individual extends only to the percentage on the exam results. It’s producing mostly academics and politicians, so experience outside the academic world counts for little.

According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, teenagers in work has more than halved, from 42pc of 16- and 17-year-olds in 1996, to just 18 as young people “concentrate on their studies”.

Parents handing out cash, buying the cars and footing the running costs teaches young people nothing about earning or the value of anything, and carves a pattern for growing adult children expecting to be bailed out financially indefinitely.

Some young people leave university never having earned a penny, bankrolled by their parents well into their twenties for cars, gap year travel, holidays and anything else they asked for. The demands of an employer in their mid-twenties come as a huge shock.

How things have changed in a generation. Everyone I knew in sixth form had a Saturday job.

If we didn’t work, we had no money. Only the privileged were showered with cash by their parents.

I worked in Boots with my friends from 16-19 and learned more on that one day a week about how the world worked, how to interact with people of different ages and deal with tricky people than in any classroom.

I’ve never forgotten that feeling of grabbing my brown envelope of cash. My earnings. I was so proud.

Fear of not doing well and excessive pampering leading to unnatural dependence is depriving teenagers of an important part of growing up.

•The opinions above are those of EDP columnist Rachel Moore


  • My daughter has a part time job as well as going to college this has been good for her not only giving her more confidence but also teaching her the value of money always a good thing to have a small job as a teenager

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    Thursday, January 7, 2016

  • Great article, totally agree but as others have said, often its the employers that won't take them on, my 14 year old already has a paper round and would love a few hours work on a Saturday or Sunday too!

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    Linda Sinclair

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

  • paper round up at 6.00 am finished by 8.00am teaches time keeping, responsibility, and managing ones own money, something the average teacher finds impossible to do. blind leading the blind.

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    Thursday, January 7, 2016

  • I agree with the main point of your article, and that there are definitely less 16 and 17 year olds having weekend and holiday jobs nowadays, but the reason isn't necessarily because of fear of not doing well in their studies. A few years ago when my sons were both still in high school, they enquired with many local businesses about the possibility of weekend and holiday work only to be told time and time again "Sorry, we don't employ under 18s for weekend or holiday work because the insurance for them is simply too high". So it's not necessarily the fault of the education establishments, nor the students that fear not doing well, nor the "excessively pampering" parents. And yes, of course employers would prefer to hire someone who's held down a job for a few hours a week alongside their studies...but only if it doesn't increase their insurance premiums to do so!

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    Lynda Scrivener

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

  • What about those companies who regularly phone students during lessons and ask them to come in and work more hours? How much do they care about the individual?

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    Thursday, January 7, 2016

  • Maybe the decline is in part due to the increase in Academies asking their pupils to go into schools on Saturdays to make up for not being taught properly during the week. These sessions are often an excuse for teachers to get paid for catching up with marking while the students eat pizza and revise (in my experience in one Thetford-based Academy).

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    Thursday, January 7, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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