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School students benefit from part-time work

Media release 3 minute read

Students who work part-time in Year 11 and 12 are less likely to be unemployed at age 19 than those who do not work during secondary school, according to a study released by ACER today.

Coordinator of ACER’s longitudinal research program, Dr Phil McKenzie, said “Students who work part-time gain a knowledge of the labour market and develop skills and contacts which provide them with some advantage in that labour market, at least in the early years after leaving school”.

“Having a part-time job while at school is one way for young people to achieve a smoother transition into later full-time employment,” Dr McKenzie said.

Students in part-time employment were more likely to be happy with many aspects of their lives – especially the money they earned, their social life and their independence – than those who did not work.

Up to one-third of 17 year-old students were employed during the school year and spent an average of nine hours per week in their jobs.

Most students said they worked to gain independence, because they enjoyed the work, and because they believed part-time work would help them obtain employment later in life. Students who were middle and low achievers at school more often cited these benefits, highlighting the importance of a part-time job for students who may not be as well served by the school system as higher achievers.

Concern about the impact of part-time work on students’ schooling appears to be unfounded. The fact that students had a part-time job did not reduce the likelihood of completing secondary school, or affect academic performance in Year 12.

However, Year 12 results were a little lower for those who worked more than ten hours per week during Year 11 and 12 than they were for non-workers during those years. In addition, Year 11 students who worked more than ten hours per week were slightly less likely to finish Year 12 than non-workers.

The study was based on over 3000 young people who were aged 19 in 1994 and who had been surveyed annually since they were 14 years old. It forms part of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth research program, which is supported by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

Robinson, Lyn (1999) The Effects of Part-time Work on School Students, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, Research Report No. 9, Melbourne: ACER.

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