Useful or distracting? Parents split over teens’ weekend job benefits

Parents are losing confidence in the benefits of weekend jobs for youngsters, despite helping children learn about the working world, a new study has discovered. Research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling has found that increasingly fewer parents believe that weekend jobs are important for older children to understand managing money.

The study of 2,000 parents revealed that, while 59% of parents aged 55 to 64 believe that weekend jobs are beneficial to children, only 28% of parents aged between 25 and 34 agree, with the figure steadily declining through generations.

Similarly, 18% of parents aged 25 to 34 see weekend jobs as too distracting, against a gradual drop to just 3% of over 55 to 64-year-olds. Currently, 35% of youngsters have weekend jobs, with 52% of all parents thinking they are a good idea. In comparison, 60% of parents said they had a weekend job while they were at secondary school.
The majority of teens who have them work the equivalent of half a day over a weekend, with 42% typically spending between three and five hours per week on their job.

The most popular age that parents chose for a child to start working at was 14, at 27%, while just 4% selecting 17, suggesting that parents still appreciate the value of teens starting weekend jobs while at school, even if the specific benefits are becoming less clear.
When asked what types of jobs parents would allow their children to work at weekends, retail assistant came top at 69%, while factory worker was the least popular option at 22%.

The top five weekend jobs that parents approve of are:

  • Shop assistant - 69%
  • Paper round - 47%
  • Waiter or waitress - 45%
  • Dog walker - 44%
  • Receptionist - 43%
weekend jobs

David Crane, a retired deputy headteacher at Manor CE School in York, said: “In general, I think it’s a really positive thing for school children to have part-time employment around their studies. The students can gain valuable experience of being in a work environment and this can certainly help future job prospects.

“Children can learn a variety of skills through work, from punctuality and time management to developing an appreciation of money and how to look after earnings. Such values are perhaps touched upon too briefly in standard education, so having a job can help children learn these important life skills.

“It is crucial, however, that these students are not exploited in a workplace, as some employers can be guilty of making youngsters work too many hours for low pay.

“Ultimately school work should come first, especially at important times in the academic calendar such as GCSEs, and part time jobs should not get in the way of exam preparation. Children need to be able to have a balance in their life, for despite the benefits of work, other parts of adolescence, such as social time with friends and sport, are equally important in an individual’s development.”

Dr Nick Smith, principal of Oxford Home Schooling, said: “Weekend jobs are undoubtedly helpful in not only getting a job after school, but for social skills and workplace etiquette.

“However, with young parents’ falling faith in the benefits of Saturday and Sunday employment for older children, this might begin to show in the ability of people to integrate into a workplace when they start a full time job.”

To read first hand accounts of school children’s experience and opinions of weekend jobs, click here