Teenagers should be encouraged to take on Saturday jobs to prepare them for their working lives, the work and pensions secretary has said.
Esther McVey insisted she did not believe youngsters were “lazy” but warned there had been a fall of up to 60% in the numbers with weekend jobs.
But she suggested the government also remains concerned about intergenerational fairness and said changes to the retirement age is something ministers will “always have to talk about” because people are living longer.
Ms McVey said she worked in her family’s business and a bistro when she was still in education.
She said some of the drop in numbers of young people doing the same may be down to an increased focus on school work but it means they do not always have the “soft skills” needed for employment.
Ms McVey told The Daily Telegraph: “Lets not put ourselves down, we’ve got a very hard working nation, we’ve now got record numbers of people in employment and nine out of 10 are UK nationals doing those jobs, that has increased significantly.
“But what we’ve got to make sure we do for business leaders is to say we’ve got to support you, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right people you want to employ going into your business.
“What you’ve seen from the 1980s, particularly in this country, is far fewer people doing Saturday jobs and doing jobs after school.
“It’s about people understanding what a boss wants and what you want out of a job and I think we’ve come a long way in supporting people in that and that’s why you’ve seen more people getting employed and more British people getting employment.”
Ms McVey indicated the means-testing of universal pensioner benefits is still on agenda, according to the newspaper.
“We will always have to talk about retirement age because we are all living longer,” she said. “That’s part of the conversation that started in 2010 and it’s important, but before we make any decisions to change anything we need to know how [universal benefits] are utilised, how people appreciate them and need them, so it will be part of a bigger general discussion.”
Ms McVey became a target for abuse when she was a junior minister in the Department for Work and Pensions after defending cuts to benefits and making controversial comments about foodbanks and she later lost her seat in the 2015 election.
She said shadow chancellor John McDonnell demeaned her when he repeated comments that called for her to be lynched.
“He’s the only person who still thinks he shouldn’t apologise,” she said.