THE economic boom in Ireland is having a dramatic impact on the lives of most secondary pupils - they are spending too much time earning money, according to a new study.
The study found that it is now common for students to have part-time jobs. Four-fifths of more than 1,000 students sampled, aged 15 to 18, were working and some were earning around IRpound;100 per week.
But these students were not working because they were hard up - only 5 per cent of students said they passed a large amount of their income on to their family. Instead, they spend most of their money on entertainment, holidays, alcohol and fashionable clothes.
The vast majority saw the consequences as positive both in the short term - having a good time - and in the long-term, with 90 per cent identifying work as giving them a feeling of independence.
The students did not think that their work would make it more likely that they would drop out of school. In fact, they did not seem to think working would adversely affect their school performance. Apart from their teachers, the students said that most people - including their parents - supprt their working during school term.
Dr Mark Morgan, of St Patrick's College in Dublin, carried out the survey. He suggested that the real issue was not so much the effects of having a job, but rather of excessive hours.
"The most alarming finding of the present study is the substantial number of students who are working over 20 hours per week. As the results show, it is beyond dispute that their schoolwork suffers as a result."
He said it is significant that students in disadvantaged schools tend to work rather more than those in other schools, especially on weekdays, which are precisely the times most damaging to their schoolwork.
Dr Morgan called for a public awareness campaign about the detrimental effects of excessive part-time work during termtime and especially on schooldays. He recommended enforcement of the legislation that limits the number of hours young people can work. and suggested that consideration be given to developing further options for combining work with school completion.
School and Part-Time Work in Dublin - The Facts", by Dr Mark Morgan, Dublin Employment Pact, policy paper No 4