Learning from part-time employment: reflections from Australia

Blackman, Anna, and Benckendorff, Pierre (2017) Learning from part-time employment: reflections from Australia. In: Benckendorff, Pierre, and Zehrer, Anita, (eds.) Handbook of Teaching and Learning in Tourism. Edward Elgar, London, UK, pp. 218-230.

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[Extract] There is substantial evidence from the USA, UK and Australia that university students are increasingly mixing their studies with paid employment (Barron & Anastasiadou, 2009; Bradley, 2006; Greenbank, Hepworth, & Mercer, 2009; McInnis & Hartley, 2002; Moreau & Leathwood, 2006; Richardson, Evans, & Gbadamosi, 2009). In Australia, many first year students are already in paid employment when they commence university and it is not unusual for some of these students to have a number of years of employment experience gained while studying at high school (Biddle, 2007). A recent Australian study of the first year experience reported that 53% of full-time students were engaged in paid work (Krause, Hartley, James, & McInnis, 2005). This proportion appears to increase as students progress with their studies with one Australian study reporting that over 80% of all full-time students were in paid employment (Bradley, 2006). However, Hall (2010) reports that Australian studies have found much higher levels of part-time work by full-time students than those found in UK studies.

The high rate of student participation in the labor market raises a number of interesting questions, particularly for those students enrolled in vocational areas such as business and tourism. While it has been claimed that the majority of student employment involves unskilled work where there is little or no connection with the students' course of study (Ford, Bosworth, & Wilson, 1995), business students are perhaps somewhat unique because they are not only studying business; they have an opportunity work in and experience real businesses through their paid-part time employment. While many studies have focused on the negative impacts of work on time to study and academic achievement some have reported positive effects, especially when the work is relevant to the course of study (Curtis and Shani, 2002; Hall, 2010; Sorensen and Winn, 1993). McKechnie, Hobbs and Lindsay (1997) propose that students in more vocationally-focused courses should be able to connect their experiences of working part time with their studies. This in turn should enhance academic knowledge and improve academic motivation and employment prospects. This makes business education quite different to many other disciplines (i.e. nursing, medicine, psychology, education), where students have traditionally been placed in highly structured work environments in order to develop their practical skills.

This chapter reports on a survey conducted at two different Australian universities to evaluate what skills students develop through paid part-time employment and which considered how the perceived congruence between paid employment and academic study might affect the development of transferable skills.

Item ID: 45438
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-78471-479-6
Keywords: learning, earning, part-time work, students, Australia
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2016 01:05
FoR Codes: 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350599 Human resources and industrial relations not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development @ 100%
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