Teen employment experiences

Teen employment experiences

Jennifer Baxter and Diana Warren

LSAC ASR 2016 chapter— August 2017
Teenage girl working cash register

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Large numbers of Australian teens are working in part-time or casual jobs. Of 12-13 year olds in LSAC, 16% had been employed in the past year, with similar percentages for boys and girls. At 14-15 years old, almost 40% had worked in the previous year, with more girls employed (42%) compared to boys (36%). Within the older age group, employment was more likely among those aged 15 years.

What work do teens do?

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that at 15 years teens are doing a variety of jobs. Girls are commonly employed as sales workers, fast food or cafe workers, babysitters and coaches. Boys' jobs include labourers, sales workers, fast food or cafe workers, shelf fillers and coaches.
  • Some teens are engaged in "informal" work, such as working for a family business, being self-employed, babysitting and coaching. At 12-13 years 9% of girls and 10% of boys worked informally. At 14-15 years 11% of girls and 12% of boys worked informally.
  • Other teens have formal work for an employer. At 12-13 years 7% of girls and 8% of boys worked for an employer. At 14-15 years 31% of girls and 24% of boys worked for an employer.

 Some key findings

  • Working hours of teens were diverse but were fitted around school times. Some teens worked outside school hours in term time while others limited their work to school holidays.
  • Teens working for an employer at 14-15 years worked for an average of 6-7 hours per week during term times. Work hours were lower if working informally, and were lower at 12-13 years.
  • Employment was more likely in regional areas of Australia compared to major city areas and, in these regional areas, boys were more likely than girls to be employed than girls. Differences according to parents' employment status and ethnicity were also found.
  • Most teens worked for financial reasons with about half saying their main reason for working is to earn day-to-day spending money.
  • Children's academic results were not strongly related to their employment patterns as teens but there was some evidence that children's social-emotional wellbeing at younger ages predicted their engagement in employment as teens. 

Publication details

LSAC ASR 2016 chapter
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 2017.

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