Barnardo’s Palmersville never gave up on me

Today’s teenagers and parents are so focussed on the next set of exams on the horizon, that it’s easy to forget how important life skills are, not just grades. Holding down a part-time job teaches your teenager essential skills and responsibilities that will stand them in good stead for life, like time-keeping, managing their money, getting on with fellow employees and facing customers confidently.

Future employers look more favourably on teenagers who’ve had part-time jobs than those who’ve spent all their time revising or socialising and that can only be a good thing in today’s financial climate. Whether through part-time work or training projects like Barnardo’s Employment Training and Skills Programmes, teens can also grasp the opportunity to discover what their talents are and what sort of job they might like to do in the future.

Study Programme and Apprenticeship learning

If your child is not keen to continue in further education, then it’s well worth suggesting an apprenticeship offering a combination of on-the-job training and college learning. Barnardo’s trains and supports over 3,000 young people every year in employment, training and skills (ETS) services.

Dylan  attended Barnardo’s Palmersville centre in North Tyneside, where he did a vocational course in retail and gained help finding an apprenticeship. Dylan was taken into foster care aged three. He and two younger siblings were adopted but his adoptive father failed to bond with Dylan and at the age of seven he was placed back into foster care while his siblings remained with their adoptive family. A new foster placement gave him some security, but when he hit his teen years he started getting into trouble with the police for drugs and petty crimes and fighting against rules at home.

That’s when he started attending Barnardo’s Palmersville, after a referral from social services. He says:  “I realised that Barnardo’s not only cared about my training but also my wellbeing.

“I have my life back on track. For the first time I’m excited about my future.  I have a work placement in my local Barnardo’s Retail store which I’m really enjoying. I have completed my level 1 Retail qualification and I’m now working towards my level 2.

“The team at Palmersville never gave up on me. When I said I couldn’t, they didn’t just tell me that I could, they took the time to show me how.”

Without the support of Palmersville, Dylan could so easily have entered adulthood lacking in self confidence, feeling that no one cared and with few work skills but now his future’s bright.

What age can children start part-time work?

The Government website  has all the details of when children are allowed to start work and how many hours are allowed. It’s a lot more restrictive than when we were children so job-hunting can be more difficult than you might remember.

Other work options

  • Volunteering at a local project for a few hours a week/month


Parents can also encourage teenagers to look at volunteering as a way to meet new people, get involved in their local community and learn new skills. There are nationwide programmes from sports to gardening.

Out of school training is another sensible option for building confidence and learning new skills.