fast food jobs. national study of fast food employment
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AUTHOR Charner, Ivan; Fraser, Bryna ShoreTITLE Fast Food Jobs. National Study of Fast Food
Employment.INSTITUTION National Inst. for Work and Learning, Washington,
D.C.PUB DATE 84NOTE 150p.; For a related document, see CE 044 300. Parts
of document contain small print.AVAILABLE FROM National Institute for Work and Learning, 1200-18th
St., N.W., Suite 316, Washington, DC 20036($20.00).
PUB TYPE Reports - Research/Technical (143)Tests /Evaluation Instruments (160)
EDRS PRICE MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.DESCRIPTORS Educational Attainment; Education Work Relationship;
*Employee Attitudes; *Employment Experience;*Employment Patterns; Employment Potential;*Employment Practices; Employment Qualifications;*Food Service; Job Performance; Job Training; LaborMarket; National Surveys; 'Jccupational Mobility;Salary Wage Differentials; Student EducationalObjectives; Transfer of Training; Work Attitudes
IDENTIFIERS *Fast Foods
ABSTRACTA study examined employment in the fast-food
industry. The national survey collected data from employees at 279fast-food restaurants from seven companies. Female employeesoutnumbered males by two to one. The ages of those fast-foodemployees in the survey sample ranged from 14 to 71, witn fully 70percent being in the 16- to 20-year-old age range. The sample had ahigher percentage of Blacks than the 1980 census (16 versus 12percent) and a lower percentage of whites (77 versus 83 percent) andHispanics (5 versus 6 percent). For the vast majority of fast-foodemployees, there is no link between job and schooling. Despiteemployees' strong interest in being promoted to management-level jobs(especially among minority workers), most restaurants recruited theirmanagement trainees from outside the restaurant. As might beexpected, the issues: of "overworked and underpaid" was a clear concernamong employees. On the positive side, employment in the fast-foodindustry did appear to offer an opportunity to develop a number oftransferable, job-related skills. Employment in the fast-foodindustry appeared to have little effect on performance in school orthe highest grade completed. (Appendixes to this report include thehourly employee questionnaire and selected anecdotes from thesurvey.) (MN)
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Ivan Charner and Bryna Shore Fraser
U S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCAT,ON
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iNational Study of Fast Food Employment
FAST FOOD JOBS
Ivan (harner and Bryna Shore Fraser
National Institute for Work and Learning1200 18th Street, N.W., Suite 3!6
Washington, D.C. 20036
Ivan Charner and Bryna Shore Fraser have given those who are con-cerned about youth employment a major assignment. Drawing on a firmand rich data base, they illuminate with facts the area of previouslyvague, and it turns out erroneous, conjecture about what "fast foodlobs" amount to More broadly, they provide an invaluable case study inthe increasingly apparent future of youth employment as a whole.
We have been strongly inclined to look down our noses at the jobs thefast food chains offer young people. They are commonly dismissed asshort-term, low-paid, "dummied up" work, providing no vorthwhiletraining and offering no future. I have sometimes wondered just howthey differ from my own running, too many years ago, of a newspaperroute at six o'clock in the morning or shoveling the neighbors' walks atten below zero. Perhaps the answer is suggested by the recollection thatmy parents turned thumbs down on the job I had lined up proudly as apin-setter in the local bowling alley at six cents a line.
Yet what we learn from this report is that, at least in the eyes of overfour thousand occupants of these fast food jobs, they offer a good dealthat is generally considered worthwhile. The work-habit trainingdisciplines are strict. If the job skill elements involved are minimal, theexperience in such things as working with and for other people, learningto communi .ite, trying a little harder and paying a price if you don't,turns out to be substantial. A sense of job satisfaction is manifest fromthese data, and an equally healthy sense of dissatisfaction with jobs thatdon't use what you know is inside you.
This report accompanies assurance with criticism. It draws from thedata regarding employee reactions what appear to be sound and con-structive suggestions about enhancing the values of this kind of employ-ment, to the benefit of employer and employee interests alike. If itperhaps tells first-rate managers little that they didn't already know orsense, it fortifies their purpose and case for change and improvement.Properly concerned about high turnover rates and the pressures to in-crease productivity, they can identify here the commonalities of interestbetween managers and workers.
The most wasted public reading of this report would be, though, thatall is well in the area of youth employment, that we can lean back and berelieved that millions of young people are being given the chance to fryhamburgers and chicken parts and operate check-out computers thathave pictures on them that stand for figures. The report cries out forharder thinking about the subject it illuminates.
If the training value in this kind of work mocks the "dead end" labelthat has been attached to it, the fact remains that promotional oppor-tunities in the fast food industry are limited. Thinking this throughbrings the realization that most youth work as recently as twenty-fiveyears ago was in occupations, principally in factories or mills or mines orcrafts or very large service enterprises, that were entry-level jobs to
established progressions within the employing establishment This is nokneer true. Most manufacturing companies aren't hiring people undertwenty-one years of age. As the shift from a production to a serviceeconomy continues, more and more employment is in relatively smallercompanies.
What will it take to make "egress," "access," "port of entry" jobsout of what companies like those in the fast food industry offer? Howcan the training the' provide be transferred?
The answers to these critical questions won't and can't come from theprivate companies themselves. They will have to come from the develop-ment of community procedures of one kind or another. Signs of theassumption of this responsibility are emerging in a variety of forms:"career brokering" agencies, "experience credentialing" programs,"career passport" initiatives, and so forth. But the need here goes farbeyond what these piecemeal measures are accomplishing. An institu-tional vacuum has developed so far a; responsibility for administeringyouth employment is concerned. We have simply got to step up to arecognition of the implications of the fact that most young people's firstwork experiences, especially if they move into these experiences withouta college education, are not going to lead directly to their adult e. ,ploy-ment.
In this connection, there would be infinite value in a follow-up to theCharner/Fraser survey which would trace over at least a one-year periodseveral hundred of the individuals involved. Did they stay on or did theyget jobs someplace else? What kinds of jobs? Did they stay in or go backto school?
The still sterner advice implicit in this report is that serious consideration be given the broader employment prospect young people face today.Any suggestion that a hitch or two of fast food employment will in itselflead a young person to something more worthwhile and permanentwould be misleading.
This report is convincing that fast food jobs have values going con-siderably beyond what has been generally recognized and that theworthwhileness of this kind of work experience can be substantially en-hanced by a combination of private and community efforts. The youngpeople engaging in this work should be told at the same time and asplainly as possible that this isn't likely in itself to take them where theywant and expect to go. It is a worthwhile complement to what they arelearning in school, but it is a false escape route from tit: Increasingeducation an "information society" is demanding as the minimum priceof a meaningful or satisfying career.
( harrier and Fr r have provided an invaluable bash for applyingreason now to what has previously been the subject of prejudice andpredilection. Their report is a charge to the exercise of critical respon-sibility.
Many people hac generously provided us wit