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Young people reject part-time work to study

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Young people are shunning Saturday jobs to focus purely on their studies, a report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has revealed.

It found that the number of 16- and 17-year-olds combining part-time work with their studies has halved – from just over two-fifths (42%) in 1996 to under a fifth (18%) in 2014. 

The report, Death of the Saturday Job: the decline in earning and learning amongst young people in the UK, revealed more than half (55%) of young people surveyed cited “their desire to concentrate on their studies” as the main reason for not working.

Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland and commissioner at UKCES said: “It seems that young people are actively shunning the idea of working while studying, as the fear of not doing well pervades our society. Yet this could be a short-sighted tactic, as we know from employers that experience of the world of work is their number one ‘ask’ when recruiting.

“This means that millions of young people are lacking the experience of the world of work that will help them find jobs in the future. Work is important. Studies are important. But one should not preclude the other. It’s about getting a good balance to give yourself the best chance. Employers and education providers need to work closer together to create these opportunities, and to highlight how a part-time job can aid young people in the future.”

Local labour market conditions are also discouraging young people from seeking part-time work. Nearly a quarter (23%) said there were no jobs in the local area. One in five (20%) stated that hours of work were too restrictive (with others citing inflexibility in the type of contract). One in seven (14%) felt there was too much competition for vacancies. 

The number of part-time roles available across the entire economy has risen from 7.8 million in 2002 to 8.6 million in 2014, according to UKCES. But the part-time jobs that young people are likely to do, such as those in the retail, hotels and catering sectors, have fallen from 2.43 million in 2002 to 2.40 million in 2014.

The number of young people in full-time education has grown substantially, from 2.1 million in 1996 to 3.2 million in 2014 – an increase of 50% – creating greater competition for each job opportunity.