Study suggests experience of paid work while in full-time education increases job chances

Young people who experience a workplace environment while in full-time education are far more likely to land a job than those who didn’t get a taste of paid employment, a new study has suggested.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) showed the unemployment rate for young people who have left regular education with experience of paid work was 14 per cent, while for those who did not it could be up to 23 per cent.

The study, called A job for everyone: What should full employment mean in 21st century Britain? and released ahead of the latest unemployment statistics, also found that of the 1,290,000 young people not in work or full-time education, half had never had a job.

“Gaining experience of the world of work while studying is vital for the future job chances of young people,” said IPPR economic analyst Spencer Thompson.

“But fewer and fewer young people are working while learning.”

In the UK, 75 per cent of young people in all levels of education do not have a job, in contrast to the Netherlands, for example, where almost 60 per cent of young people are employed.

Before the beginning of the recession in 2007, one-in-three young people was working, but the number of young people who have never had jobs has doubled since 1998.

Mr Thompson said: “These findings show the need for a job guarantee for young people, paid at least the minimum wage, to provide them vital with experience of the workplace.

“By having job experience on their CV when they leave full-time education, young people will be at an instant and much needed advantage when entering the jobs market.”

Mr Thompson added that a job guarantee would also ensure that those who could not afford to take unpaid internships would not be disadvantaged.

According to the study, the advantage was particularly important for young people with few qualifications, as one-in-three young people with fewer than five A* to C grade GCSEs and no work experience are unemployed, compared to one-in-six with experience of work.

A spokesperson for the Association for Education and Learning Providers said: “We strongly opposed government’s removal of mandatory work experience for school pupils because we were very worried about its likely impact on the job chances of young people.”

He added that the removal of mandatory work experience increased the importance of the work experience element of the new traineeship programme.

UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) senior manager David Massey said the drop in young people taking on paid work alongside their studies was worrying.

“The ‘death of the Saturday job’ may seem trivial, but UKCES research shows that experience is what employers value most when taking on young people,” he said.

“Over the past two decades, the share of 16 to 17-year-olds in full-time education with part-time jobs has halved, from four-in-ten in 1992 to under two-in-ten now.

“Young people are less and less likely to combine work and learning, cutting off this route to gaining vital experience.”

The IPPR study is available here.