Alternative opportunities for skill development with a First job.

First job. connects young people between the ages of 14-15 with real work opportunities to further their development and prepare them for the working world. 

With more teenagers than ever having no experience of paid work, has compulsory mass schooling inadvertently removed a vital rite of passage to productive adulthood? Worktree has become interested in finding out the answer by trying something which may seem counter to our current culture of mass school education.

How it works

1 – Employer listing

Worktree gathers appropriate job listings from approved local employers. Listings must pass our job role criteria to safeguard applicants and ensure feasibility of employment.

2 – Teenager application

Young people can browse our collection of job listings and make an application based on criteria set by the employer. This process can include an interview and assessment project.  Jobs will be posted from 3rd July.

3 – Approved employment

Approved applications are connected with their new employer. Their employment is facilitated and safeguarded by Worktree, who also host group training sessions for employed applicants.

2024 pilot scheme –

We are running a pilot test of First job. in Summer 2024 for up to 25 young people aged 14-15. We are currently gathering and approving job listings from employers located in Milton Keynes. Young person employment is expected to begin in August 2024, with applications starting in July.

Why it is important –

For decades, Worktree has developed and delivered employability education and training activities to ‘get young people ready for work’, including 50,000 work experience placements, a work experience based ‘school without walls’ for excluded 14-16 year olds, industry visits, enterprise challenges, mentoring and more.  All this has been done to develop employability skills without giving young people the chance to prove their employability, like teaching bicycling without providing a bicycle.  Worktree now wants to try providing paid work as the main resource for learning about work.

Research shows paid work during education helps develop employability skills [1], plays a key role in mental health and is important for a successful transition from school to work [2].  Current employment permits children from the age of 13 to work for pay 12 hours per week during school term time (outside school hours) and 25 hours per week during school holidays [3].  Many employers and young people don’t know this.

In a recent survey of more than 100 Year 9 students (aged 13-14) in Milton Keynes, 70% said they were ‘interested to visit an online jobs page showing paid work opportunities available to their age group’.  The most common reasons given were:  “I want to get money”, “I want to get out of the house”, “I want experience working with others”, “I want experience for my CV”.

First job. aims to develop young people’s employability skills and confidence, and increase their motivation to study, by enabling them to experience pay.

  • % of school children who say they ‘don’t know how they will get their life back on track’ 44% 44%
  • % of school children who report worsening mental health 40% 40%
  • % of employers who say young people are not ready for the world of work 44% 44%
  • % of teachers who feel there are fewer opportunities to develop employment skills 47% 47%
  • % of students who interested in a service like First job. 70% 70%