Combining Working With Learning Improves Youth Employment Prospects

A newly published report has shown that part-time working in combination with education is beneficial for young people.  The more young people earn and learn - whether through apprenticeships or part-time work - the more likely they will develop the rounded set of abilities and experience that employers need.

Learning and Earning Offers Young People a Competitive Edge

More importantly, the report called ‘Precarious Futures? Youth Employment in an International Context’ finds that countries with high numbers of young people who work while studying have lower levels of youth unemployment as a result.

In Australia 44% of young people aged 15 to 19 who study are on apprenticeships or have part-time jobs. Only 12% of young people aged 20 to 24 are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

On the contrary, in the UK just 22% of 15 to 19 –year-olds combine part-time work with full-time education, or take on an apprenticeship - and almost one in five (19%) 20 to 24 year olds are categorised as NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Other Benefits

Combining part-time work with full-time education has a positive effect on the transition from education into work. For example, 16-19- year-olds who combine work with full-time education are slightly (by 4-6 percentage points) less likely to be NEET five years later than those who are just in full-time education. They also tend to earn more a year later than those just in full-time education, with a premium of 12-15%.

These benefits are extended to higher education students too. Those who combine work with their studies:

  •  achieve better degrees than those who don’t,
  •  are less likely to be unemployed after their studies,
  •  are more likely to be in a graduate job, and
  •  are more likely to earn more.

International data demonstrates that the UK was the only European country to experience a fall in earning and learning in the years leading up to the recession. However, apprenticeships have not fallen in the country.

Seeking reasons why less students earn and learn in the UK, the paper cites the number of part-time jobs available, the hours and the occupation students are in – professional, managerial and technical jobs dominate the UK job market.

Nestle CEO and chairman Fiona Kendrick commented that the youth unemployment challenge in the country is "fairly unique". "Too many young people aren’t making a successful transition from education into work," she added. "They risk falling in and out of short-term jobs, or in some cases not entering the job market at all and losing the opportunity to develop careers".

Possible Measures to be Implemented

The report concludes that as the economy gradually recovers, it is now the best time to take active measures to improve young people’s chances in the labour market. A fundamental principle of these measures involves access to the workplace by means of work experience, apprenticeships or combined part-time work with education. In a nutshell, the proposed steps for tackling the deep-rooted barriers to youth unemployment are:

  • a balance between work and education for all young people
  • high quality work experience to become part of all study programmes
  • greater employer leadership and strategic network development to help young people get in the labour market.

All in all, the report shows that combining work experience with education plays a key role in decreasing youth unemployment levels. Young people who are in any kind of employment and education are not only likely to enjoy higher economic benefits, but they also acquire experience and skills that employers require. They also have the opportunity to develop invaluable networks that can help boost their career prospects.