A big question for many parents with teenage children is ‘should I encourage my teenagers to get Saturday jobs?’ If you can easily afford your children’s lifestyle, it’s sometimes hard to see the merits. However, research suggests that Saturday jobs could be the key to their success.
Many of you will remember your first Saturday job, it was a rite of passage and your first glimpse of working life. Fond memories or not, these jobs helped shape your work ethic and build essential life skills. Even the elite, talented and public figures had to spend their Saturdays working hard for a minimum wage…
- Rod Stewart measured grave plots at Highgate Cemetery
- Jo Brand was a nursing assistant in a psychiatric ward
- Ozzy Osbourne laboured in a slaughterhouse
- Sean Connery was a young milkman
- Kanye West was a Gap sales assistant
It seems that Saturday jobs for the next generation are in danger of becoming extinct. This article from The Daily Telegraph references the UKCES report detailing the collapse of teenage part-time working. Another study from HuffPost found that just over half of parents thought weekend jobs were a good idea.
When asked if a Saturday job was “too distracting”, six times as many younger parents agreed, compared with the older parents. This indicates that future parents may not be encouraging their teenage children to get Saturday jobs.
So why are these parents against Saturday jobs?
The UKCES reported one of the main reasons for teen Saturday workers becoming a dying breed is the fear that a job will affect their study results. In 2018 the Daily Mail published an article saying that GCSE and A-Level students ‘left tearful pupils vomiting’during exam and hand in periods.
Qualifications may be getting more difficult for today’s students. Alongside this, universities are increasing how many UCAS points students need. This is creating pressure for students to achieve the grades.
Is putting too much pressure on academic achievement hindering other achievements?
Many parents and teenagers believe a Saturday job is simply for earning pocket money. If parents can afford to support their teenager’s lifestyle, they believe there is simply no need for them to work at (what is often) a minimum wage job when they could be studying or relaxing. Scanning groceries at a checkout in Tesco is hardly going to prepare your child for a career as a doctor or lawyer. Or is it?
There’s more credit in a Saturday job than a few extra pounds in their pocket. A first job can help children to build independence. They may learn essential soft skills that will see them through their entire career and life, including:
First jobs give teenagers their first taste of responsibility. They must be at work at a certain time and complete set tasks. When they don’t turn up to work or ignore their responsibilities, they learn the consequences by not being paid or getting fired.
However you see it, sending a young Brooklyn Beckham to serve coffee at Caffe Nero doesn’t necessarily normalise him.
2. People, communication and teamwork skills
Almost all first jobs will involve working in a team or with customers. This will help your teens to develop people and communication skills. Working with people they may not normally encounter in their day to day ‘bubble’. They also have to learn to keep customers happy and communicate with their colleagues and manager.
3. Resourcefulness and problem solving
Regardless of whether they are a babysitter, shelf stocker or waitress, they are guaranteed to run into a problem at some point. This will help them develop the ability to be resourceful and problem solve on their feet. This skill is transferable in any career and generally in life. It is a great survival skill to send them out into the world with.
4. Manage their finances
Receiving your first paycheck is an exciting day. The sweet feeling of earning it and spending it how you like. Even if it’s not a lot of money, it’s all yours. This may be their first experience of managing money other than their pocket money.
They may have a few failures at first, living like a king for a day and having none left for the rest of month. But they will learn early to manage money. It’s better for them to learn while they are at home with no bills to pay, instead of making silly money mistakes when they have rent and bills.
Lack of work experience is affecting graduates’ careers
Focusing solely on grades can leave your children behind the pack when it comes to getting on the career ladder.
An article by the Telegraph explained, graduates face an ‘experience gap’. Many employers prefer to recruit young people who have spent a couple of years in the workplace. This is because many university leavers are lacking essential skills, such as teamwork and problem-solving.
The Association of Graduate Recruiters published a study explaining that key skills need to be adopted pre-workplace.
The University of Warwick careers blog discussed the skills gap between graduates and employers. There was a ‘gap’ in expectations (graduates in parenthesis). Business leaders and HR directors believed:
- 90% believe that employees with strong people skills deliver a better commercial impact.
- 91% believe that employees with refined people skills advance faster. (69% of graduates believe that people skills get in the way)
- 85% see technical skills as a basic necessity, while soft skills set graduates apart. (70% believe technical skills are more valuable than people skills)
Working and studying
If you are concerned that a job may jeopardise your child’s education, be reassured that research shows that students who hold part-time jobs can get better grades.
Getting the balance right is key. Their job needs to be flexible and fit into their student life. It should allow them to give away shifts or choose not work in exam periods or before coursework deadlines. Some jobs may even allow students to get in some studying during quieter periods.
Universities may offer on-campus jobs which tend to be more flexible and support students in their studies. These can usually be found on the university website.
Other flexible work for students includes;
- events and hospitality
- bar and restaurant work
- temp work
If a job during term time is not possible then there’s always summer jobs and summer internships. There are some interesting programmes that allows your teens to incorporate travel into their summer job. Some examples are; Camp America, teaching English abroad, and coaching children’s football camps. For similar summer jobs in England visit Indeed or StudentJob.
It’s not all serving fries and kicking balls. Major brands and companies now offer summer internships. These include; Google, Bloomberg, Marks and Spencer’s, Microsoft and Vodaphone. These will provide excellent experience to have on a graduate CV and help develop some essential soft skills. These are usually only available to university students and may be unpaid or only expenses paid.
If your child is over 16 years old, then it may be beneficial for them to experience having a job. This is both for their self-development and for their future career.
You can help by encouraging them to look for a job and visit their career adviser. It can also be helpful to looking out for opportunities for them in your own network. As well as sharing their posts on LinkedIn.
Helping them prepare for the employment process can be invaluable. You could help by proofing their CV and cover letters and helping them practice their interview technique on you.
If you can afford to, you help support them during a summer job abroad or an unpaid summer internship.
For more helpful tips on how to help your child find a job visit Balance Careers.