Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey says part-time jobs can give under-16s ‘soft skills’ that will help them in later life
Teenagers should be encouraged to have Saturday jobs to prepare them for their working lives, the work and pensions secretary has said.
Esther McVey said she did not believe British youngsters were lazy but said there had been a fall of up to 60% in the number of children with weekend jobs.
She also suggested the government remains concerned about intergenerational fairness and said changes to the retirement age is something ministers will “always have to talk about” because people are living longer.
McVey, who worked in her family’s construction business and at a bistro as a youngster, said the drop in numbers of young people in part-time employment may be down to more focus on school work but meant they do not always have the “soft skills” needed for work.
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McVey, 50, who was appointed work and pensions secretary in January, told the Daily Telegraph: “What you’ve seen from the 1980s, particularly in this country, is far fewer people doing Saturday jobs and doing jobs after school.
“It’s about people understanding what a boss wants and what you want out of a job and I think we’ve come a long way in supporting people in that and that’s why you’ve seen more people getting employed and more British people getting employment.”
Employers need to apply for a licence to hire staff under the age of 16. Research by the BBC last year found that the number of child employment permits issued by councils fell by more than 20% between 2012 and 2016, from 29,498 to 23,071.
One of the biggest drops in employment permits being issued to 13-15-year-olds was in Middlesbrough, with seven issued in 2016 compared with 101 in 2011.
The council said the “massive drop” was due to a decline in the number of people in the area who had a newspaper delivered to their door.