Patterns and effect–a report based on the England and Wales youth cohort study

Post-16 students and part-time jobs: Patterns and effect–a report based on the England and Wales youth cohort study

Payne, Joan

A study looking at the role of children’s part-time jobs and the effect they have on educationa performance and the decision to stay on in education after age 16.

Key points

Over two-fifths of year 12 students and around three-fifths of year 13 students held part-time or casual jobs when surveyed in the spring of the year.

Only 14 per cent of year 13 students had not had a job at all since the end of year 11.

In year 12, half of those with jobs worked under 11 hours per week and threequarters worked under 16 hours. Working hours in year 13 were slightly longer.

Year 13 students who did not have jobs spent on average three more hours per week working for their qualifications than students with jobs.

Students were less likely to have a job if they had poor GCSE results, if they did not have a parent in full-time work or if they lived in a region with high unemployment.

Students were more likely to have a job if they were female, white or on a Level 3 vocational course.

Students from independent schools and students with highly educated parents were less likely to have jobs than others.

Educational Maintenance Allowances reduced the probability of taking a job.

The jobs of year 12 students were nearly all in sales or catering.

Year 12 students with jobs in spring 2000 had a mean net weekly pay of 39.65 and a mean net hourly pay of 3.52.

Working more than 15 hours per week in year 12 and working over ten hours per week in year 13 had a serious impact on A-level results.

Introduction

STUDENT INCOMES in years 12 and 13 are of policy interest because they are likely to influence young people’s decisions about whether to stay on in education after 16. The most common way in which 16 to 18-year-old students boost their income is to take a part-time job.

This report describes the extent and nature of part-time work in years 12 and 13 and its impact on educational performance.

The report is based on Cohorts 9 and 10 of the England and Wales Youth Cohort Study (YCS). Each YCS cohort forms a very large, nationally representative sample of young people at the end of compulsory education. Cohort 9 started year 12 in autumn 1997 and Cohort 10 started year 12 in autumn 1999.

Extent of part-time work

Over two-fifths of full-time students had jobs in the spring of year 12. This was about the same proportion as in YCS Cohort 4 nearly ten years earlier. In year 13, almost three-fifths of full-time students had jobs, and five out of six year 13 students who had been in jobs 12 months previously were still working. In total, only 14 per cent of year 13 students had not had a job at all since the end of year 11.

Working hours

Year 12 students with jobs spent on average just under 12 hours per week in employment and 21 hours per week in class. More than half of those with jobs worked ten hours or less per week and another quarter worked between 11 and 15 hours. As a group, year 12 students with jobs spent nearly as many hours working for their qualifications (including time spent both in class and in private study) as students who did not have jobs.

Year 13 students spent on average 4.6 hours longer per week working for their qualifications than year 12 students, and those with jobs also spent on average slightly more hours in employment than those in year 12. In year 13, students who had jobs spent on average three hours less per week working for their qualifications than students without jobs.

Factors associated with paid work in year 12

Statistical modelling revealed the factors that affected the probability of taking a job, after holding constant a wide range of relevant variables. Students with poor GCSE results were a lot less likely to have jobs than students with average GCSE ‘grades, though the probability of having a job fell again somewhat among students with top GCSE grades. Students on Level 3 vocational courses were more likely to have jobs than A-level students, while students on lower level vocational courses or who were doing GCSE re-sits only were less likely to have jobs.

Female students were more likely to have jobs than males, students of Asian origin were much less likely to have jobs than white students and students in the South East, excluding London, were more likely to have jobs than those in other regions, especially regions with above average unemployment rates.

Students whose parents had good educational qualifications were less likely to have jobs than others. Students whose parents were not in full-time employment were less likely to have jobs than those who were not.

Students with parents in personal and protective service or sales occupations were more likely to have jobs than those in other occupations.

Students who had attended an independent school in year 11 were less likely to have jobs than students who had attended state schools.

Students with Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) were less likely to have jobs than students without EMAs.

The labour market for 16 and 17-year-old students

Well over two-fifths of full-time year 12 students with jobs were in sales occupations (mostly sales assistants and check-out operators), around a quarter were in unskilled manual occupations (mostly in sales and services, especially in catering and as shelf fillers), and about a fifth were in personal and protective service occupations (mostly in catering occupations). Differences between the jobs held by males and females were not as pronounced as in the nonstudent workforce.

Young male workers not in full-time education were much more likely than male student workers to be in craft occupations and much less likely to be in personal and protective service, sales and unskilled manual occupations. Young female workers not in full-time education were much more likely than female student workers to be in clerical and secretarial occupations and much less likely to have sales jobs.

Overall, students made up well over 80 per cent of all 16 and 17-year-old workers in sales occupations, well over 70 per cent of all 16 and 17-year-old workers in unskilled manual occupations, and almost 70 per cent of all 16 and 17-year-old workers in personal and protective service occupations. In higher level, clerical and secretarial, and plant and machine operative occupations students formed between a quarter and twofifths of the 16 and 17-year-old workforce.

Only in craft and related occupations was the contribution of the students to the total youth workforce fairly insignificant.

Earnings

Overall mean net weekly pay for year 12 students with jobs was modest: 38.40 in spring 1998 and 39.65 in spring 2000. However, their mean net hourly pay was 3.24 in 1998 and E3.52 in 2000, both comfortably above the minimum wage for 18 to 20-year-olds introduced in April 1999.

Female students with jobs earned on average 14p per hour less than males in 1998 and 16p per hour less in 2000. The mean hourly pay of year 12 students was higher than that of 16 and 17-year-old workers of the same sex and in the same occupational group but not in full-time education.

Impact of part-time jobs on examination results

An earlier analysis of YCS data suggested that year 12 students who did not have jobs were more likely to stay in fulltime education until the end of year 13 than year 12 students with jobs. The present report examines the impact of part-time jobs on examination results, given that the students stayed on to year 13.

Statistical modelling showed that, after controlling for a wide range of variables that affect examination results, the negative impact of paid employment on A and,ASlevel grades was negligible unless students worked long hours. For jobs in year 12, this meant more than 15 hours per week; over 15 hours per week the impact on examination results suddenly became much bigger. In year 13 jobs the critical point was lower, and jobs had a serious impact on results if they took up more than ten hours per week.

The model for achieving Level 3 vocational qualifications was based on a much smaller sample and was less satisfactory.

The impact of part-time jobs was not statistically significant overall, though it appeared to be generally negative.

Policy implications tackled if participation in post-16 education is to be increased. Many students augment their income by part-time jobs, but the report found clear evidence that working more than ten hours per week in year 12 and more than 15 hours per week in year 13 led to significantly poorer results in A-levels. With the new two-stage A-levels, effects in year 12 could become as serious as in year 13.

Nevertheless students benefit in a number of ways from working part time: the issue is one of the balance between jobs and study. Schools and colleges could give guidance – as many do – on the maximum number of hours that students should spend in part-time jobs, and conforming to this guidance could be made a condition of receiving an EMA (it should be noted that EMAs reduced the probability of taking a part-time job).

There was some evidence that family contacts help students to get jobs, and that certain groups of students find it more difficult to get jobs than others. However, there was no evidence that student workers were exploited in terms of pay.

The report highlights the importance of the student workforce to the UK economy, particularly in sales and other service sector occupations.

Copies of the full report Post-16 students and part-time jobs: patterns and effect – a report based on the England and Wales Youth Cohort Study (RR323) and the Research Brief (RB323) are available, free of charge, front DFES Publications.

PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Anne.sley,. Nottingham NG]5 ODJ, tel. 085 6022260. Research Briefs and Research Reports can also be accessed at information about this research c-cbc information about this research can Drummond. Room obtained from Ian Drummond, Room W611, Moorfoot Sheffield SI 4PQ, e-mail

Joan Payne, Policy Studies Institute, London

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