Monday, 14 October 2013

How much work is too much in Year 12?

Following on from last week's blog about part-time work, the question arises "How much work is too much for students in Year 12?" 

There is no exact science in determining the optimum number of hours or shifts, but there are a few key questions students need to ask themselves when considering when they should say 'no' to shifts on offer and when they feel comfortable that they are in control of school, work and social commitments - and not burning the candle at every conceivable end!

When first taking on that part-time job, students need to ask themselves:
  • How many shifts per week would I like to be offered?
  • How will this job affect my other commitments? (sport, social, study etc)
  • If it all gets too much, what will I be prepared to give up?
By asking themselves these questions, and perhaps discussing them with parents, students are facing the reality of making choices...and reasonably significant ones! The skills they will learn in their part-time job are certainly invaluable - but they should not jeopardise their future long-term career, professional or study options by investing too much time in the short-term goal of simply earning pocket money. Generally, one or two shifts a week are the 'recommended dose'.....perhaps reduced to one or none during critical exam periods.

Many students in their final senior years have been known to fall by the wayside and fail to achieve their educational goals because they have been unwilling to compromise. Their insistence on maintaining too many shifts, attending every party or continuing to take part in all their extra curricular activities has led to reduced choices for post-school pathways.

So, whilst part-time employment for students still at school offers not only monetary rewards, but also newly acquired life skills, it is vital that they are reminded of the importance of life balance. School, work, play, social - they can have it all - but in moderation.

photo credit: stuartpilbrow via photopin cc

Monday, 7 October 2013

School skills + work skills = life skills

In our somewhat materialistic world of today, our kids seem driven to 'have'. The prime motivation to work is based on earning, rather than learning.......but I wonder if our young people actually realise how many benefits (and life skills) are attached to these first part-time jobs?

Without wanting to rely too heavily on parent handouts, our kids are often anxious to earn for themselves - to gain that first scent of the power of independent spending! That first job is like unlocking a door which leads to a sense of choice, as well as a sense of future options.

Apart from the obvious capacity to earn money for themselves, part-time jobs teach our kids some invaluable skills; skills which they are learning first-hand, away from the classroom. For most, that first job will be entry level stuff - basic, often repetitive, and possibly not very stimulating.

In 2009, Professor Wendy Patton (Exec Dean of the Faculty of Education at QUT) conducted a study on the skills young people learn from part-time work. The data was collected over three years, with students from Yrs 10-12, and concluded that part-time work gave students an insight into workplace structures. As these students were also employed in lower-level positions, it also gave them the opportunity to reconsider the value of their education as a pathway to increased career and employment choices later on.

So, what other life skills can part-time work offer our young people? Here are just a few: 
  • Communication skills - the ability to engage with peers as well as employers
  • Team work - co-operation and joint decision-making
  • Problem solving - completing a task to expected standards and, sometimes, overcoming difficulties to 'get the job done'
  • Time management - prioritising and planning tasks towards completion
  • Organisational skills - being able to listen to instructions, process what needs to be done and apply a system for completion
  • Initiative - the ability to make decisions and complete a task without always waiting for instructions
  • Independence - managing their income and making choices
These skills provide a foundation for future choices, and we should encourage our kids to take up the opportunity to find part-time work while still at school. Having said that, as parents we need to ensure that employment does not tip the scales too far in the direction of 'earning' rather than 'learning'. That first part-time job should be just a window into future possibilities.....not an end in itself.

photo credit: smedero via photopin cc