The number of young people who don’t feel in control of their lives increased by a third during the last year – to a record high – and a fifth of 16-25 year olds think their “life will amount to nothing”, a survey has revealed.
The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index shows a “staggering deterioration in young people’s confidence in themselves and in their future”, its chief executive, Nick Stace, said as the report was published Wednesday.
The 2018 research shows that 39% of young people don’t feel in control of their lives, up 11% from 2017 (28%) – which was the previous highest since the Index was first commissioned – and 21% think “their life will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try”.
One factor that is taking a toll on young minds is the “unpredictable political climate”, the Trust said, which is making 59% of young people feel anxious about their future.
Further to the sense of gloom felt by those surveyed, one in four working young people said they felt trapped in a “cycle of jobs they don’t want” and 73% said they thought they were “capable of getting a better job ” but were “held back by low confidence and a lack of opportunities to develop their skills”.
Some 59% said they feel they need “opportunities to develop their skills before they can think about career options” and 54% believe a lack of self-confidence holds them back.
Almost a third (29%) of those surveyed think getting relevant work experience is one of the “biggest challenges in pursuing a career” and the same amount of respondents said they took on “whatever jobs” they could get, rather than focusing on “developing their career”.
The Trust urged the government and employers to “focus on young people and provide them with the skills and confidence they need to thrive”.
Looking further ahead, almost half of young people – 44% – fear the economy will provide fewer job opportunities for their generation in the next three years, the study found.
The Index is a national survey of 2,194 people that gauges young people’s “happiness and confidence across a range of areas from working life to physical health” and is in its ninth year.
“The latest report demonstrates that young people’s wellbeing, which dropped last year to its lowest level since the Index was first commissioned, has fallen again to a new low this year, and that concerns about their job prospects are playing on their minds,” the Trust said, adding that its finding suggest the current job market is “holding young people back”.
The Index also shows a “mismatch” between young people and the jobs they are taking on, the Trust said, saying 41% of young people who are in employment will compromise when it comes to the hours they work, with 26% working more hours than they would like and 15% underemployed, wanting to take on more hours.
More than a quarter – 27% – of working young people are working part time (under 35 hours per week), one in ten (10%) are on zero hours contracts and 12% are currently working two or more jobs.
The cliff edge decline in young people not feeling in control of their lives echoes conversations we have every day with young people who speak of their fears about finding work, taking short term jobs over longer term careers and the knock on effect of heightened uncertainty in the economy.”
Nick Stace, CEO of The Prince’s Trust
Stace added: “This has to be our moment to redouble what we do as a Trust and as a society. It is our fundamental belief that every young person should have the chance to succeed and when they do our country will also succeed.”
Macquarie Group CEO for EMEA, David Fass, said the Trust’s findings that “so many young people feel out of control and trapped in a cycle of unrewarding jobs” was concerning.
In response to its findings, the Trust said it is “refining its eligibility criteria to reflect the evolving needs of the young people it supports”, such as, the underemployed.
“These changes will enable even more young people to access the charity’s services and with a greater degree of flexibility,” it said.
The Trust currently supports young people who are working or studying up to 35 hours per week “and want to improve their employability skills or explore the idea of starting their own business”.
This year, the Trust says, it will support around 60,000 disadvantaged young people to “develop the confidence and skills they need to succeed in life”.