Part-time work was a norm for most of us baby boomers. We delivered papers and worked in supermarkets and corner stores. There was lots of work around, and providing you were prepared to turn up on time and do what was asked of you, you could get as much part time work as you wanted.
Years past and we waitressed, mowed lawns, worked in local pubs, or got part time jobs in nearby stores. For me it was stacking hay and working in shearing sheds. We learned to get on with people, show a bit of independence and good judgement and whether it was washing dishes, cleaning toilets or making cocktails, we developed a platform of work skills to grow a career on.
Today, it’s not so easy for youth to get part time work. The down turn of the economy means there is less part time work available and the need for two incomes for a family to keep their head above water has meant young mums are flocking back into the workforce.
To further compound a difficult situation, in order to get ahead, young people are expected to put in more hours at school or training for sport or music or whatever extra-curricular activities they have chosen. And then there are growing family and church commitments. Families juggling three or four jobs lean heavily on their teens to support with child minding, cooking and house-keeping.
This has all lead to the ‘death of the Saturday and after school jobs’. In the UK 16- and 17 year-olds combining full-time study with part-time work has halved, from 40% in the late 1990s, to around 20% today. We don’t have this data here in NZ, but it is probable it would reflect the UK situation.
Work experience is cited as the missing link for young people securing SME employment in NZ. It seems a big ask, in tight fiscal times, to ask businesses to invest their time and money in up-skilling young people, as in the short term it eats away at the bottom line. So – no experience, no job – no job, no experience. With SMEs making up 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses, this becomes a real problem.
My next blog will explore some innovative ideas from both around the globe and here in NZ – programmes which understand the importance of being future focused and which are successfully bringing together the needs and interests of both youth and business.
I would be interested to hear what ideas you have.