Part-time work while at uni was the making of me | Blaise Tapp

I was reminded by my most recent birthday that I have now been earning money for 30 years.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 11:15 am
Students are now choosing to concentrate on extra study rather than take part-time jobs

I was first gainfully employed in 1990 at the age of 13 allowing me to earn enough cash to pay for green suede boots and trips to the Odeon.

Back in the days when I sported a bad Chris Waddle-esque mullet, delivering the weekly free newspaper was a proper responsibility.

It was this terribly paid job which led to me wanting to write for the very titles I was quickly stuffing through letterboxes before mad Alsatians attempted to relieve me of my index finger.

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But before embarking upon my chosen career, I had to find a job which would pay me more than a tenner a week and this is how I ended up spending three years working in a care home.

As an incredibly naive 16-year-old, nothing prepared me for life on the frontline of geriatric care. It wasn’t very long before I was snapping on surgical gloves, handed a pot of cream and sent off to get the elderly residents ready for a day of Richard and Judy, jumbo crosswords and afternoon naps.

The work was demanding, the pay was dire and the hours could be arduous but I loved every minute of a role which helped me navigate my student years without accruing a penny in debt.

Grafting as a care assistant prepared me for full-time work and the realities of life as a bill-payer. Which is why it is surprising to learn that the number of 16 and 17-year-olds in part-time work has almost halved in 20 years.

A study by the Resolution Foundation suggests teenagers, not to mention their parents, would prefer it if they focused on their studies rather than cleaning toilets and serving up over-priced coffee.

Another reason for the so-called Death of the Saturday Job is that smaller businesses such as butchers and pubs that would offer study-friendly positions don’t exist in the numbers they did 20 years ago. While I agree that education must come first, it mustn’t become the be-all and end-all.

The cost of living is only going to go up so why not start earning, not to mention learning about work, as early as you can?