When I was at school, I never had a Saturday job, or even a paper round, although many of my friends did. My parents were afraid that working would interfere with my education. But I did work in the summer holidays and after leaving school worked for a year before going to university. And I think I learned as much working as I ever did at school. Indeed, the importance of work experience was shown up in our European funded G8WAY project on school to work and university to work transitions.
The study found that “the proportion of teenagers combining part-time jobs with school or college has slumped from 40% in the 1990s to around 20% now, according to a government agency. Latest figures show that 260,000 teenagers have a Saturday job compared with 435,000 in 1997.”
UKCES say that there are multiple reasons for this. “The trend is not just recession-related but the result of an increasing expectation that young people should stay on at school, as well as a dwindling number of Saturday jobs, according to the report. Many of the jobs that young people do, such as bar work, are in long-term decline, and are forecast to stagnate or decline further over the next decade.”
The lack of opportunity for paid work is preventing young people becoming independent and in many of the case studies we undertook through the G8WAY project, resulting in considerable family tensions.
And there is an irony here. At the very time young people are being denied the right to work, employers are increasingly demanding work experience, as a precursor to employment. The result is that many young people are being forced to undertaken internships, either at a low pay rate or even without pay. That such internships exist, suggest that there are jobs. It is just employers do not want to pay.