A dramatic decline in Saturday jobs amongst teenagers bodes ill for their chances on the labour market, according to an article by The Guardian’s education editor Jeevan Vasagar. Vasagar based his claims on a report of government agency UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), whose most recent statistical data showed that only 260,000 teenagers today have a Saturday job compared to a whopping 435,000 in 1997 – a decline of almost fifty percent.
With only twenty percent of all UK teenagers currently combining school or university with a part-time job, many experts feared they could miss out on all-important on-the-job experience:
“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”,
“Word of mouth is the most common way to get a job, but an increasing shortage of work experience means young people are unable to build up informal contacts, it [the report] adds.”
The report suggested manifold reasons for this highly problematic development. For one, students were expected more than ever to do well at school, which required them to study harder and longer and necessarily came at the expense of side-jobs. Secondly, the market for so-called Saturday jobs had incisively changed since the 1990s, effectively wiping out many of the typical employment possibilities that once allowed the young to work at a bar, behind the counter of a supermarket or distributing the morning papers. Since these changes were structural and mostly non-reversible, gathering practical working experience had become a lot harder for our future generation.
Thankfully, as the Guardian indicated, potential solutions for future generation were already on the way:
“The government announced on Monday that it was overhauling the system of funding education after 16, to make it easier for young people to get work experience.”
At present schools and colleges are funded per qualification, and there is no incentive to offer activities that do not lead to passing exams. But from September next year, schools and colleges will be funded per student. Ministers say that:
students who do not achieve a good grade in English and maths, the subjects most valued by employers, will have to keep studying those subjects until the age of 18.
This will be a condition of the funding of post-16 education. The changes follow a review of vocational education by Professor Alison Wolf of King’s College London. Wolf said:
“Employers value high-quality work experience undertaken by students. But the current system makes it far too difficult for many institutions to build this vital aspect into their programmes.”
Job experience wasn’t the only field where experience comes in handy, meanwhile. According to eccount money’s Will Thomas, our future generation could also benefit from taking banking matters into their own hands as early as possible:
“We strongly support the current government’s emphasis on getting the young to gather experience on the labour market. But we should never forget that banking and budgeting will also be at the heart of their future financial success.