By Daniel Hunter

A new report from government’s skills experts the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) reveals that the number of 16 and 17 year olds combining part-time work with their studies has halved — from just over a two-fifths (42%) in 1996 to only 18% in 2014.

The report The death of the Saturday job: the decline in earning and learning amongst young people in the UK finds that the main reason for this is a desire to boost their grades by focusing on their studies alone. Over half (55%) of young people surveyed identified “their desire to concentrate on their studies” as the main reason for deciding not to combine work with study.

Dame Fiona Kendrick, Chairman & CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland and Commissioner at UKCES commented:

It seems that young people are actively shunning the idea of working while studying, as the fear of not doing well pervades our society. Yet this could be a short-sighted tactic, as we know from employers that experience of the world of work is their number one ‘ask’ when recruiting.

This means that millions of young people are lacking the experience of the world of work that will help them find jobs in the future. Work is important. Studies are important. But one should not preclude the other. It’s about getting a good balance to give yourself the best chance.

Employers and education providers need to work closer together to create these opportunities, and to highlight how a part-time job can aid young people in the future.

Local labour market conditions are also discouraging young people from seeking part-time work while studying. The report shows that young people feel that the competition for jobs, combined with a lack of flexibility from employers (on hours or type of contract) are putting them off even considering looking for Saturday jobs.

The number of part time jobs available across the entire economy (for workers aged 16-64) has risen from 7.8 million in 2002 to 8.6 million in 2014. But the part-time jobs that young people are likely to do, such as those in the retail, hotels and restaurant sectors, have actually fallen slightly from 2.43 million in 2002 to 2.40 million in 2014.

Conversely, the number of young people participating in full-time education has grown substantially, from 2.1 million in 1996 to 3.2 million in 2014 — an increase of 50% - creating greater competition for each job opportunity.

This is borne out by young people’s views of the jobs available to them. Nearly a quarter (23%) said there were no jobs in the local area. One in five (20%) said that hours of work were too restrictive. One in seven (14%) felt there was too much competition for the jobs available.