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12th Jun, 2023

Christy Houghton
Christy Houghton
Job Title
Digital Content Writer

When students turn 16, they can start looking for their first job – either for independence, extra pocket money, or to start their career in an entry-level role. With no prior experience behind them, students may find the job-seeking and recruitment process intimidating – so in this article we’ve highlighted the key information to help teachers provide guidance on how to get a job at 16.

Work experience at 16

At 16 years old, employers don’t expect students or school leavers to have any work experience, although many do without realising it.

Any hobbies, practical work within classes, or volunteer work, can be included under the work experience section of a CV.

In addition, some schools encourage students into a work experience placement, which should also be added to a CV, listing tasks completed and any achievements. These are all opportunities to develop the skills needed to start an entry-level role.

As well as Saturday jobs or other part-time work, you can even get a full-time job at 16 once you have a CV, understand how to write a cover letter, and hone your interview skills – plus any other skills you might need for the role.

What employers look for in young jobseekers

The main skills employers are looking for from 16-years-olds without work experience include reliability, communication, basic maths, English, and possibly IT skills, depending on the role.

All job listings will include a person specification, which lists the required and desirable skills – that means certain skills will be necessary for the role, while optional ones will vary according to the nature of the work and the employer.

For example, our advice on how to get a job at Starbucks at 16 will be different to how to get an entry-level IT job. Therefore, a Starbucks role would require good customer service skills, noting barista skills as desirable but not essential, whereas an IT role would require basic IT skills and find coding skills preferable.

Rights, benefits, and pay for 16-year-old employees

Most of the rights a 16-year-old would have in the workplace match those of every other employee in the business in a similar role.

Every UK employee is entitled to statutory sick pay, paid annual leave, and at least the minimum wage that applies to their age group. The legal minimum wage for 16-17-year-olds is £5.28, as of 1 April 2023.

Employees also have the right to:

  • Request flexible working options

  • Take time off for emergencies.

  • Take parental leave.

  • Be protected from unfair dismissal.

  • A minimum notice period, if they are being dismissed.

  • Statutory redundancy pays, if they are made redundant

Some of these rights are dependent on a minimum length of continuous employment, which is usually stated in the employment contract.

For those under 18, break times are usually longer. Young workers are entitled to a 30- minute break if they work more than four and a half hours in a day. If possible, this would be one continuous break. Employers are also legally required to ensure young workers get 12 hours of daily rest and 48 hours of weekly rest.

In extenuating circumstances, where young workers are required to work for longer and lose some of their rest time, they have the right to take that time back – and it must be taken within the following three weeks.

Download our careers guide for students and school leavers now – or contact your nearest Reed office to find your next opportunity or employee.