Holiday jobs for pupils thinner on the ground

The days when ambitious teens could get jobs sweeping factory floors, stocking shelves or working checkouts in the school holidays, appear to be ending.

Dunedin recruitment agencies say secondary school pupils looking for the traditional summer holiday job may be out of luck this year.

Select Recruitment managing director Karen Bardwell said the company had a couple of clients with job vacancies which would suit school leavers, but there was nothing for those wanting short-term jobs over the school holidays.

''Going back a few years, we would have had about a dozen jobs suitable for secondary school students over the summer, but those seem to have dried up.''

There were ''temping jobs'' where secondary school pupils could be assigned a different job at a different business every day of the week.

Some days they could be working, and on other days there might be no work and no pay, she said.

She said it was good for school pupils to have traditional holiday jobs because it prepared them for the workforce by giving them work experience and a good work ethic.

''Since the economic downturn, there has been less holiday work. Companies are tightening their belts.''

Ms Bardwell said supermarkets used to be one of the best businesses for employing school pupils in the holidays, but had dried up as a source of those opportunities.

''I was surprised that not even supermarkets are giving as much work to school students now. They are more focused on employing university students.

''It's because they have to pay minimum wage now and they want more experienced workers in their jobs for that kind of money.

''It's a significant downside to the change in legislation.''

Tradestaff Southern area manager Steve Aydon agreed many of the holiday jobs that used to be available, had disappeared since companies started reining in labour costs.

He believed many businesses were getting existing staff to do the jobs a holiday worker would normally do.

He said some of the jobs available required manual labour and were just too strenuous for most senior secondary school pupils.

''A lot of them aren't strong enough or mature enough to do some of the jobs available.''

Often, teens were overlooked in favour of university students, he said.

And if there were any jobs that were suitable for teens during the holidays, they were given privately to pupils who had family connections at the workplace, he believed.

''The jobs just aren't there any more. If the work was there, we would be able to put them in there.''

Adecco Personnel southern area manager Teresa Moore said fruit-picking in Central Otago was still a holiday job option for teens, but for those wanting work in urban areas, choices were sparse.

''It's hard enough to keep mums and dads in work, what with all the closures, layoffs and restructuring going on in the city. It's sad.''

She said in the past the recruitment agency had a lot of holiday work in factories for teens, doing simple floor-sweeping.

Given that Dunedin has very few factories left, those jobs were rare.

However, the news was not all bad.

Miss Moore, Mr Aydon and Ms Bardwell said there were definitely still full-time jobs for school leavers - particularly if they were ambitious, focused and had a positive attitude.

''That's the trick,'' Mr Aydon said.

''If they've got the right attitude, we can get them a job.''

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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