Doing my weekly shop last week in Sidmouth, it struck me that nearly 20 years ago I was working behind the till in my local supermarket. It was my first proper part-time job after being a paperboy and it gave me such invaluable experience.

It helped build my confidence as I dealt with customers’ queries, managed stock, stacked the shelves and served on the till whilst also studying at college. For some, it took the pandemic to recognise that shop staff are essential workers who deserve our respect and recognition for the vital work they do. If, like me, you’ve worked on a shop floor, you know this already.

I worked in a former Somerfield store and will be forever grateful for what it taught me. It brought a relatively shy boy out of his shell and gave me a solid grounding in life. Without this experience, I’m not sure I could do the job I do today.

Taking on a part-time job as a youngster not only has the benefit of making you appreciate the money you’ve earnt through hard graft, but also shows future employers that you can take on responsibility and be reliable – both great and necessary qualities for the future.

In our part of East Devon, the backbone of our local economy is tourism and hospitality. I meet with local employers in these sectors frequently and we often talk about staff recruitment and retention.

I recently visited the Manor Hotel in Exmouth where I was heartened to discover that owners Harry and Andrea Tucker always make a point of meeting the local teenagers that have taken the time to drop in their CV looking for work.

If they can’t employ them for whatever reason they will still offer them support and a chat. It’s this kind of attitude that meant someone gave me my first part-time job and I will always be grateful. If you’re a local employer with the same approach, then I thank you as I know first-hand how it helped me to get a solid start in life.