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What Has Happened to the Saturday Job?

Now I am sure those of a certain age will remember crawling out of bed first thing in the morning for a paper round. Perhaps you had a Saturday morning or summer holiday job in a shop, restaurant kitchen or sweeping up in a factory. Whatever you did, begrudgingly or not, the paper round, Saturday & Summer jobs gave us an understanding of how work works.

Personally, I had a number of Saturday and Summertime jobs during my teens that my parents actively encouraged. Probably just to get me out of the house and to stop annoying them. I did a paper round, was a butcher’s boy, a pot washer and a summertime worker in a laundry. The main factor at the time was that I needed some cash for some nice new clothes. So at the tender age of 15, I secured a summer holiday job in a laundry. I worked full-time (40hrs per week) on the massive tumble dryers, loading and unloading clothes. All for the princely sum of £12.75p per week.

What piqued my interest in Saturday jobs and young people’s part-time work, was a conversation with a group of college students recently. Very few, if any, worked on a Saturday, let alone a Summer holiday job. Granted my straw poll was small, however, what is the reason for the lack of young people engaging with part-time work? Are the jobs there? Or is it Catch 22 – young people don’t want the jobs, therefore, the jobs are withdrawn? Is there an understanding of how helpful the humble Saturday job really is to job prospects?

The Decline in Saturday Jobs for Young People

According to a UK Commission for Employment and Skills report in 2015, young people are deciding against the old-fashioned Saturday jobs. Instead of focusing on enhancing their employability through part-time work, 16 and 17-year old’s are solely focused on their studies. Over half of young people in the study said they want “to concentrate on their studies” instead of taking up a Saturday job. Sadly because of the fear of failure in their studies.

The report documents an interesting downward trend for young people working part-time during the last three decades. Since the late 90s, there has been a drastic decline in the proportions of young people working. Marking a cultural shift away from times when it was commonplace for young people to have a part-time work or a Saturday job. The report demonstrates that “Part-time jobs also have more tangible benefits {or young people}. Research demonstrates that young people who combine work with full-time education are less likely to be NEET later on than those just in education. Further, earners and learners are likely to perform better and earn more than those students who focus only on their studies.” Clearly highlighting the missed opportunity that some young people may well be foregoing for their studies.

Earning & Learning

These observations could mean that millions of young people are lacking the basic experience of the world of work. The experience gathered on part-time working will no doubt help with the understanding and context of employment in the future. Clearly work is important, just as their studies are. However, one should not necessarily preclude the other. It’s more about encouraging and getting a good balance between the two. Helping to give a young person the best chance to ease themselves into their first job. Thus alleviating the shock of going to work for the first time and withstanding the requirements of employment.

Figures from the report go on to highlight that the number of part-time jobs available across the entire economy. For those between ages 16 to 64 has risen from 7.8 million in 2002 to 8.6 million in 2014. However, the part-time jobs that young people are likely to do have fallen slightly. Work in the retail, hotels and restaurant sectors, have declined from 2.43 million in 2002 to 2.40 million in 2014. So it’s not that the jobs are not there, it’s just that are no takers for the job available.

So What do Employers Really Want from Young People?

A part-time job is something separate from studies. It can offer a real-time peek behind the smoke and mirrors into the working world. Young people can get a start with managing colleagues from vastly different ages, cultures and background. Thus honing the all-important interpersonal skills at an early stage.  The experiences can be added to a CV, along with any achievement’s and responsibilities. The part-time work can go some way to prove you have the necessary skills in business, organisations, communication, problem-solving and even perhaps management. If you are lucky enough to get a promotion in the role. Having these sets of skills and experiences, help employers to pay more attention to your application. Indeed 66% of employers state that the commitment to a part-time or Saturday job can make the difference during an application for a job. As a result, will make it more likely that you will be granted an interview to showcase your talents.

However, we seem to be moving increasingly towards measuring outcomes broader than academic achievement alone. Perhaps more can be done to ensure that young people understand the long-term benefits of part-time work. Particularly on their future prospects. (UK Commission for Employment and Skills – 2015)


The benefits of ‘earning and learning’ for young people are clear. These advantages are well documented and obvious when looked at from a fresh perspective. The work experiences for young people will no doubt differentiate the candidate from the others in the recruitment process. A vital commodity in the competitive environment of entry-level employment. Those who can combine work with full-time education are more likely to get that all important first job. Part-time work is a great way for young people to gain experience in the working world and the people in it. A factor that 66% of employers say is important when recruiting.

Clearly, there are numerous benefits that a Saturday job or part-time work can bring. The impact on young people’s employment and career prospects is significant.  The disengagement from part-time work may create a longer dwell time for young people to orientate themselves at work. Perhaps create a lack of motivation and drive to get that first job due to rejection. Leading onto the worry statistics for young people who are not in education, employment or training.

It is therefore imperative that young people know of the benefits of part-time work and can make informed choices. Hopefully in the future education providers, parents, caregivers and employers can work in partnership to support young people into work and onward into their careers. The good old-fashioned Saturday job will not only give those young people a CV to be proud of and a great start in understanding how work works.


UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2015) “The death of the Saturday job: the decline in earning and learning amongst young people in the UK” (

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