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Why it's worrying that fewer teens are taking up part-time jobs.

Published on: 24 Apr 2024

The hospitality industry is the perfect place for young adults and teens to take their first steps into working and earning a salary. Yet, in recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of teenagers seeking part-time employment, (across all industries, not just hospitality and retail which has traditionally been the sector most teens are employed in). 

According to recent statistics, only 1 in 4 teenagers are actively engaged in part-time jobs! This trend raises concerns about the potential consequences for both the individuals and society as a whole. While the reasons behind the shift may vary, it's important to acknowledge the benefits of teenage employment and why it's saddening to see fewer teenagers pursuing such opportunities. 

The decline in teenage employment

There are various factors and reasons behind the seemingly decline in teenage employment. One significant factor is certainly the increasing emphasis on academic achievement and extra-curricular activities. Many teenagers today find themselves inundated with schoolwork and extra-curricular commitments, leaving very little time for part-time work.

Additionally, the rise of the gig economy and digital technology has altered the landscape of employment opportunities. While traditional part-time jobs such as retail or hospitality still exist (and are perfect for entry-level roles), many teenagers are drawn to alternative ways of earning income, such as freelancing, online tutoring, or starting their own small business. Is it worth also looking at modern parenting, where parents are not enforcing this old tradition of Saturday jobs and holiday work?

The importance of teenage employment

What is more worrying is actually how beneficial working as a young adult can be - in terms of developing independence, learning new skills, extending social circles and having an interest outside of school work, the bedroom, screens and social media!

1, Financial independence: 

Taking up a part-time job empowers teenagers to earn their own money, manage their finances, and understand more about the cost of living. Learning to budget, save, and make responsible spending choices at a young age sets a foundation for financial literacy that will serve them well in adulthood.

2, Develops work ethic:

Working part-time instils important work ethic and responsibility in teenagers. They learn the value of punctuality, teamwork, and perseverance, qualities that are essential for success in any career path.

3, Builds confidence and skills:

Part-time jobs provide teenagers with opportunities to develop valuable skills such as communication, problem-solving, and customer service. These experiences help build confidence and self-esteem, preparing them for future challenges in the workforce.

4, Time management:

Balancing work, school and extra-curricular activities teach teenagers valuable time management skills. They learn to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and juggle multiple responsibilities effectively.

5, Expands social networks:

Part-time jobs exposes teenagers to a diverse range of people and situations, helping them develop social skills and expand their professional networks. These connections can be valuable for future job opportunities and personal growth. 

Why it's sad to see fewer teenagers working

While there are valid reasons why some teenagers may not seek part-time employment, it's important to recognise the potential downsides of this trend. This decline impacts individual development but also has broader implications for society. 

1, Missed opportunities for growth:

Without the experience of working during your teenagers years, individuals may miss out on valuable opportunities for personal and professional growth. They may lack the skills, confidence and financial independence needed to navigate the challenges of adulthood successfully.

2, Increased dependence:

A lack of employment for teenagers can contribute to increased financial dependence on parents or guardians. While support from family is essential, teenagers benefit from the sense of autonomy and responsibility that comes with earning their own money.

3, Economic impact:

From a societal perspective, fewer teenagers participating in the workforce can have economic implications. It may result in a shortage of entry-level workers for industries that rely on teenage labour, affecting productivity and growth in certain sectors.

4, Shift in values:

The decline also reflects a shift in society and priorities. While academic achievement is undoubtedly important, there is value in striking a balance and recognising the benefits of real-word work experience. 

In conclusion, whilst the shift in teenagers taking part-time roles is influenced by various factors, it's essential to acknowledge the importance of part-time jobs for personal and professional development. As a society, we should strive to create opportunities for teenagers to engage in meaningful work experiences that will empower them to succeed in the future.

And if this has truly sunk in, think of the world of opportunity within sport, leisure, hospitality and retail. There are countless opportunities to work in a bar, pub, waitressing in any restaurant, hotel or cafe, customer service in shops, gyms, hotels. Summer or seasonal jobs in cinemas, activity parks, or working with children. With such scope for work, should there really be any reason teenagers are not branching out and seeking their own opportunities? Don't be work shy! Love what you do!