Why are young people not taking up Saturday jobs like they used to?

PUBLISHED: 11:33 03 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:18 05 November 2018

Jill Barton, Careers Enterprise Co-ordinator for Suffolk County Council and Stoke High student Veronika Marinova

Jill Barton, Careers Enterprise Co-ordinator for Suffolk County Council and Stoke High student Veronika Marinova


Veronika Marinova, a 15 year-old Stoke High School student who works as a waitress at Bella Napoli on Saturdays, says her job is a fun way to meet new people and makes her think harder about the sort of career path she wants to take when she finishes her schooling. But it turns out that she's in a shrinking minority.

The traditional Saturday job is no longer a rite of passage for today’s teenagers, as a new survey has found that around half the proportion now do this type of work compared with their parents’ generation.

Just over a fifth (23%) of teenagers report having this type of part-time work - compared with 43% of parents who had such a job when they were younger, financial services provider OneFamily found.

Jill Barton, Careers Enterprise Co-ordinator with the New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network, claims that the demands of the education system mean that students are more pushed academically these days.

“They’re too tired to do weekend work as well,” she says. “They don’t have time to branch out and get their social and communications skills, and when they enter the world of work, businesses suffer because they don’t get well-rounded individuals.”

The minimum wage for under 18 year olds has increased from £3.68 to £4.20 since 2012, and didn’t exist at all before 1998.

Mrs Barton was paid about £1 an hour for her first job as a Saturday girl in Woolworths.

“It made me more independent,” she recalls. “I worked on a horrible counter, the paint and housewares counter, but there were three of us so we had to learn to work as part of a team and get on with each other.”

Its not just the social aspect that Veronika says she benefits from in her waitressing role, but also the physical nature of the work. “It’s good exercise - Taking things in and out, I’m on my feet all the time.

“And I can spend the money on me, I can buy the outfits that I want to.

“The downside is that I don’t have as much time to revise.”

Although 15 year-old Stoke High School student Ryhiann Gaynor says she’s too busy focusing on her GCSEs to do a Saturday job, she does still so the occasional paid work. “Sometimes, I ask my brother for a tenner and he says I have to do something for him for it, like ironing his clothes,” she explained. “But I don’t want to start an actual job until I finish school.”

Like Ryhiann, nearly half (45%) of teenagers surveyed reported doing informal short-term “gigs” to earn some money, seeking a variety of small jobs which they fit in as and when they can.

While the top jobs for modern teens include the domestic chores cleaning, babysitting, carwashing and gardening, their parents’ generation were more likely to work in a shop or delivering newspaper.

Stoke High School’s careers officer Wendy Toogood points out another reason why young teens are less likely to have part time jobs is that it is harder for companies to get liability insurance to cover them to employ under 16 year-olds.

“Employers really cannot get insurance to have people under 16 on their premises,” she says. “I organise work experience placements, and trying to find places for young teens is really difficult because health and safety has now stepped in.

“Even if they want to, businesses can’t employ them. Its much easier post-16 - but those kinds of kids have higher expectations of a Saturday job, they don’t necessarily want to do a paper round.”

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