6 min read

As Saturday jobs become a thing of the past teens embrace the gig economy

Posted in: Research

  • Number of teens[i] with a ‘Saturday’ job has halved compared to a generation ago
  • A third (33%) don’t do any kind of work due to lack of availability of jobs for someone of their age, or too much school work
  • Around half of all teenagers (45%) are turning to short-term informal ‘gigs’ to enable them to earn money
  • Top ‘gigs’ now include dog walking, cleaning and babysitting compared to shop working, shelf stacking, and newspaper rounds for their parents


A Saturday job was once a rite of passage for most teenagers, but today’s generation are opting for informal, short-term ‘gigs’ as they face a decline in opportunities for traditional teenage work.

According to financial services provider OneFamily, the number of teenagers able to secure a part-time job has halved since their parents’ generation. Just one in five (23%) now have an ‘official’ job compared to 43% of their parents. Out of the teenagers that are earning money, the majority (66%) are earning money from doing odd jobs or work with no set hours.

A quarter (24%) of teens in full time education report weekend roles no longer exist and more than one in six (17%) teens insist businesses don’t want to employ young people.

As a result, dog walking, cleaning, baby-sitting, car washing and gardening are the most popular ‘gigs’ taken up by teens but jobs such as tutoring, programming, and teaching computer skills are also increasingly common (11% of teens). New technology is fuelling the gig economy boom, with some older teenagers using apps such as Airtasker and Pawshake, where adults list services they need, like tutoring, dog walking or mowing the lawn, to find work. By comparison, in their parents’ generation more official roles such as shop working and shelf stacking were the norm.

Over a third (37%) of those earning money from odd jobs believe this is the most lucrative way of working with the average teen now making £2,340[i] per year.

Four in 10 (40%) teens who earn money want to so they can save up for big expenses like holidays or a new gadget, whereas this was only the case for 26% of parents who worked in their teenage years. Independence is similarly a key driver for Gen Z youths, with half (50%) working so they can spend their money as they choose.

The findings follow recent government campaigns focusing on the decline in the number of schoolchildren with part-time jobs[ii]. While Freedom of Information requests to local councils across the UK show the number of child employment permits being issued has faced a steady decline[iii], this does not take into account the different ways young people are engaging in the workforce through the gig economy.

For non-working teens, increasing pressure to succeed at school is a significant deterrent for finding part-time work. The top reasons given for not working include being too young (31%), not having the time because of studies (29%) and parents wanting them to focus on their education (27%). Two in five parents (40%) who have unemployed teenagers say they want their children to concentrate on their studies instead of working.

However, the benefits of working in teenage years are extensive according to parents, with the majority saying it taught them a good work ethic (70%), and skills such as how to manage money (40%) and how to budget (35%).

Steve Ferrari, Managing Director of Children’s Savings at OneFamily, commented:

“While you might see less teenagers working a Saturday job, it’s clear that many are taking full advantage of the gig economy and see the benefits of fitting odd jobs around their studies. This way of working gives young people the chance to bring in some extra money, and provides them with the opportunity to try out different careers and get used to managing and saving their earnings for the future.

“We would encourage parents to see the benefits of their children working while studying. The lessons that part-time employment – in all its forms – can instil, from a good work ethic to earning and budgeting, is invaluable, particularly during adolescent years.”


Top 10 jobs for teens today Tops 10 jobs for parents during their teen years
1 Dog walking (29%) 1 Baby-sitting (42%)
2 Cleaning (28%) 2 Working in a shop (36%)
3 Baby-sitting (22%) 3 Delivering newspapers (30%)
4 Car washing (20%) 4 Dog walking (20%)
5 Gardening (16%) 5 Cleaning (16%)
6 Delivering newspapers (14%) 6 Car washing (15%)
7 Working in cafes or restaurants / working in a shop (13%) 7 Working in cafes or restaurants (14%)
8 Pet sitting (12%) 8 Events-waiting / gardening (10%)
9 Events waiting (10%) 9 Pet sitting / agricultural or horticultural work / working in a hairdressing salon (7%)
10 Teaching others computer skills (6%) 10 Working in hotels (6%)

[i] All teenage references through signify those aged between 13-19 years old in full-time education
[i] According to the research, the average teenager now works 9 hours per week and earns £49,47 per week or £2,572 through employment (not from friends or family).
[ii] The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched a major drive this summer to get Britain’s young people working. Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, reported that the percentage of young people working while studying has more than halved since 1997, falling to 18 per cent from 42 per cent but this report did not account for informal work.
[iii] OneFamily issued a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all local authorities across the UK responsible for issuing child employment permits in August 2018. More than 160 authorities responded to the FOI revealing that the numbers of permits issued in 2015 up to 2018 fell by 9 percentage points.