Part-time career: myth or reality

For some, working part-time is a way to get some extra money. For others, it’s their primary activity and source of income. But can you really have a part-time career?

The nature of part-time work suggests at first that no, these jobs were not intended for a career. They are marked by being flexible. From one day to the next, the boss may need less manpower; his part-time employee will therefore work elsewhere.

This mobility gives little encouragement to advanced training of staff. For some employers, part-time work limits employees’ personal and emotional investment. Workers are rather selected based on their availability and less for their involvement in the company. In the restaurant field, for example, many students are recruited; the workforce is replaced every year as employees withdraw or move on.

The limited number of working hours also affects employees’ progress within the company that employs him. The responsibilities that accompany a position such as store manager require more time and energy than a part-time worker is prepared to provide. The employees are part-time because they have other obligations in parallel. If they accept more responsibilities, they risk upsetting this balance which is, however, the main purpose of the part-time work.

But part-time careers do exist, especially in the health care field. Part-time can simply indicate a less permanent status than full time, but still integrated within the company. In Quebec, according to Statistics Canada, 29.3% of nurses were working part-time in November 2011. Their responsibilities were the same as their full-time colleagues, but with less demanding use of time, in principle.

The areas with high demand for labour (health, accounting, finance, etc.) therefore offer career opportunities, even working part-time. For other sectors, it is more unusual to advance in your career by only working part-time. However, it is possible to decide to work less for a while, in order to have more time to yourself, without harming your career.

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