These 11 to 16 year-olds, growing up in the context of significant economic challenges and with the proliferation of new technology, share some of the concerns of their parents’ generation. Across the generations, crime, activities for young people and street cleanliness are identified as local priorities. However, they have their own challenges too. They are anxious about getting good grades and a job when they leave school, about their appearance and about their parents working too hard. Many believe it will be harder for them to buy a house or get a job than it was for their parents. In fact, only a minority of Generation Next think life will be better for them than it was for their parents.
At the same time we see real hope for a future society led by these children. The majority believe that gender and ethnicity does not pose a barrier to getting a good job, and hopefully they will hold to that belief as future employers and employees. Nevertheless, many still think getting a well-paid job will be easier for those with a rich family or who went to private school.
Many children and young people believe 16 and 17 year-olds should have the opportunity to vote. However, the research shows that the majority are undecided about their political allegiances. It may be that we are moving away from a political culture dominated by party loyalty and identity politics, and towards a more independent culture in which individual issues matter more than party allegiance. These children and young people have much to tell those who lead this country. Like adults, they want to see health services and education at the top of the national agenda.
Thanks to Rev Mary Hawes for spotting this one.