WANTED: Manual labour for little money. Not quite the job that the 'maid generation' is known to go after, but when it comes to holiday gigs, these young people will sweat for their salary.

For part-time or short stints, an average minimum wage of between $4 and $7 an hour will do. They are likely to pick positions that allow them to work with friends, or menial jobs in industries that interest them.

Former St Joseph's Institution (SJI) student and movie lover Dylan Foo makes $4 an hour as a part-time customer service assistant at Cathay Cineplex.

Until he starts his Sports Science course at Republic Polytechnic, the 16-year-old reckons his job is at least not 'boring'. Besides, work is near home in Ang Mo Kio, and if his manager allows it, he could ride on the perks of a full-timer and watch movies for free.

Like him, those who are done with their O and A levels, with time after their examinations in mid-November and early December, are putting the lull before their polytechnic semesters to good use.

Alwynn Yiow, 16, went straight from the classroom to a warehouse in Boon Lay, after completing his O levels at SJI in November. As a warehouse assistant, he worked seven to eight hours a day, starting at 8am, five days a week. He spent five weeks as a packer for food manufacturer and distributor Auric Pacific, labelling and repacking food products into boxes bound for distribution to fast food outlets, 7-Eleven and FairPrice.

He started with tinned fish and hamburger buns, and was then posted to the frozen food section, handling heavier pallets of instant bento meals and frozen pizzas. He got paid according to the quota met, making between $40 and $60 a day.

He surprised friends who told him it was 'not the kind of job' they would do, but rather than harp on the physically demanding work, he said: 'The job was pretty easy to do. It's the kind that didn't require much thinking, and you can become 'pro' at it very quickly.'

As Mr Kelvin Lee, 35, branch manager for Kelly Services in Jurong, pointed out: 'Because it is their first job, most teens are not too fussy.'

Neither are employers who are faced with the peak shopping period from December to February. They generally hire teens at entry level in sectors such as hospitality, logistics, events and exhibitions, retail, and food and beverage - jobs that call for only basic skills.

In retail, teens take up positions as cashiers, promoters and customer service assistants. In logistics, they are assigned to packing and checking of inventories in warehouses. At F&B outlets, most are hired as waiters, and in corporate environments, as administrative assistants, receptionists and call centre operators.

The months leading to the mid-year shopping season from end-May to July also see major exhibitions, such as the IT Show in June, offer ad hoc jobs. At these events, teens form a constant pool of ushers and guides.

Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate communications at GMP Recruit which supplies manpower for events and exhibitions, pointed out that these teens are better educated than their peers 10 years ago. They are competent in communicating with delegates at events and exhibitions, and are technically savvy.

More mature teens - those aged 18 or 19 - also work at country club restaurants and food outlets, serving guests during the catered lunches and dinners.

Singaporean youth are also easier to hire than foreigners who require permits and visas.

Top performers, in fact, are asked to come back. Mr Goh said he has not received complaints from employers so far, but noted that among those aged 16 to 20 years old, those above 18 tend to get compliments and offers for future projects. Even so, not every young person has stamina.

Mr Chua Khoon Hui, 36, owner of Quaich Bar, said he gets disappointed workers among those who sign up for what they think is a 'hip place to work'.

'When they start, there is manual work like washing the dishes and taking out the trash,' he said, recalling one 20-year-old who told him he had his maid do just that at home. He lasted all of two weeks.

Meanwhile, GMP Recruit typically gets a dropout rate of up to 10 per cent within a day or two of an exhibition. Mr Goh said: 'There are some who may not really know what the full spectrum of the job is. Only when they start the job do they realise there is a lot of standing around - it can be tiring.'