School leavers waiting to learn their exam results should spend their summer doing unpaid work experience rather than chatting to their friends on Snapchat, a Government minister has said.
Employment Minister Priti Patel said the long summer break offered young people the opportunity to gain valuable experience that would help them to get a first foot on the career ladder.
Writing in the Sun on Sunday, she said that acquiring practical skills was just as important as doing well in exams when it came to getting a full-time job.
"Grades aren't the only things employers are looking for - work experience and practical skills are equally as important," she said.
"I'd encourage young people to get involved and use their summer holidays to help set up the rest of their life.
"This is the perfect opportunity to step away from the selfie sticks and put down Snapchat and do some work experience.
"It will boost chances of getting a foot on the career ladder, an apprenticeship or even a first job."
Ms Patel, who is preparing to launch a Government campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of work placements, described how her own experience helping in her father's newsagent's business had taught her the importance of "hard graft".
"He got up at 4am every day, delivering the morning newspapers while I helped by stuffing the Sunday papers with the supplements," she said.
"Seeing his drive and determination to make his business a success taught me about hard graft and the value of work."
At the same time, she said there was an onus on employers to provide the opportunities for young people to obtain the experience they needed to get on.
"By offering work experience in their organisation they can help train their future workforce and give young people the skills that will carry them through their life and career," she said.
"This should be at the heart of every business."