AS MANY as one in three senior secondary students are working part time, but despite spending up to 10 hours a week on the job their school performance is not seriously affected.
A major study of Australian students, which began in the early 1990s, found that part-time work during secondary school also made it easier for the students to get a job later.
The study revealed that most students' reasons for working part time are not just financial: they like the independence jobs give them, they enjoy the work and they believe the experience will help them obtain employment later on.
About 10 per cent of students, mostly those from poorer families, work because they need the money.
Compared with students who do not have a part-time job, those who do are significantly less likely to be unemployed at the age of 19 and less likely to experience lengthy periods of unemployment. In some cases they also earn slightly higher hourly wages, according to a report of the study.
There is not much variety in the part-time work available. More than half the 17-year-old students, for example, were employed in shops, with a third working as labourers.
The general impact appears to be overwhelmingly positive. The report notes: "Australian school students who work part time gain a knowledge of the labour market and develop skills and contacts which provide them with some advantage in that labour market, at least in the early years after leaving school.
"Having a part-time job while at school is one of the ways a young person can achieve a smoother transition into later full-time employment," says the report.