AFTER a school day, teenager Alice Kelly dons a different uniform once a week and serves customers during an evening rush at a Warrnambool supermarket.
A new study of south-west senior high school students' employment status shows the year 11 student is similar to many of her classmates, apt at juggling work with study and extracurricular activities.
"I know when to study and plan my study through work or other commitments," she said.
Deakin University and Beyond the Bell found 81 per cent of year 11 and 12 students from three Warrnambool high schools and another in Hamilton were working.
While most worked between one to 10 hours a week, six per cent said they worked more than 16 hours a week, some even more than 20 hours.
Beyond the Bell executive officer Kate Roache said most students reported they worked to earn money and gain independence.
"This is about being independent, paying bills, saving for a car, running a car, entertainment, lifestyle costs, some are saving for travel," Ms Roache said.
She said most young people said they balanced school with part-time work, but some reported fatigue from working too much.
"It's when they push over that 11 to 12 hours a week it's a conversation that needs to happen with young people about how to balance their lives," Ms Roache said.
"Some people can do it really well, but others may need some support and scaffolding how to manage that. For some it's not an option, they need to work, and we need to appreciate that."
Warrnambool Swinton's IGA employs about 20 high school students after school hours and on weekends.
Grocery manager Chris Marsland said the supermarket was cautious not to "overload" young employees and most worked two shifts a week.
"We look to hire high school students to help them get into the workforce," he said.
Alice, an Emmanuel College student who also works a weekend shift, said she worked at the supermarket to gain financial independence.
"You don't have to rely on your parents to get you things," she said.
Alice said it "could be tricky" managing shift times with school and sporting commitments, but found it manageable.
She added she valued the teamwork at her first job and had formed friendships outside of her school network.
"It's a change of environment and a change of people too, not just the same all the time," Alice said. "We have a really good work team."
Ms Roache said Beyond the Bell would meet with principals in coming weeks to discuss the final report.
"We might come up up with a strategy together, or whether the schools want to manage that themselves that is OK too," she said.
"It could be something around a conservation with parents and carers about the role of part-time work in young people's lives ... (and) the impact it may be having."
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