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Two-thirds of UK teens still expect to own a home within the next ten years, according to a new report on the issues facing young people today

In spite of house prices increasing above income growth and falling levels of home ownership among younger generations, just 14% of young adults and 7% of teens believe that they will never own their own home. The stats suggest that the UK’s much-publicised housing crisis is having less of an impact on the country’s mid-sized cities than in its largest urban conurbations.

The findings of the survey of 1,538 young people aged between 14-25 are covered in the Changing the Future: Youth Insight Report, which has been developed by Key Cities, a collaboration of 20 mid-sized cities across the country, on the fundamental challenges currently facing young people. The group seeks to generate awareness of the economic contributions of its member cities and to develop solutions to the constraints preventing growth and further prosperity for the UK.

The report shows that young people are divided when it comes to their long-term prospects in the areas they grow up in, with 55% stating that they would stay in their current area, versus 45% opting to move further afield at the first opportunity. The local availability of quality careers did not appear to have a bearing on this decision, with those expecting to move away and those expecting to stay ranking almost identically when asked how easy they felt it would be to get a decent job in their local town or city (6.22 / 6.34 out of 10 respectively). 

The survey also tackled issues around the availability of good quality public transport in the UK’s towns and cities, and found that young people are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the local options available to them. Cost (72%), reliability (66%) and lack of convenient stops (24% were identified as the main prohibiting factors in using public transport, while the focus groups suggested that Uber-style taxi services were considered cheaper options for group travel.

Local authority bus budgets were cut by £20.5 million in just the last year (the eighth year in a row budgets have been cut)[1], putting increasing pressure on bus fares to be increased over the level of inflation. With cost traditionally being the main reason young people use public transport, the perception of it being expensive (especially for young adults without bus passes) raises serious questions about its value for this section of the population in already congested towns and cities across the UK.

Employability and skills were also explored by the survey, with 60% stating that they had undertaken some form of work experience. However, 66% of those who possess work experience noted that this was not in a role that they hoped to pursue as a full-time career.

The findings suggest that young people’s expectations of work experience are moving away from learning the core skills of working (such as timekeeping or presentation), with increasing hopes of an opportunity to learn a specific or niche skill (such as filmmaking) instead. The focus groups conducted in support of the report found that if work experience didn’t meet the specific interests and expectations of young people, it was often considered “a waste of time”.

The survey also identified a lack of confidence in current careers advice services, with 36 per cent stating that advice received at secondary school had not helped identify a suitable career path, and a further 42% suggesting they had never had any careers advice at all.

“The report paints a picture of a young population full of ideas and optimism, but who perhaps lack a real connection with the decisions made in their local communities and how these affect their prospects. We know, however, that young people have a real stake in developing long-term, sustainable solutions to worklessness, innovative housing solutions and environmentally future proofed resilient cities,” Cllr Shabir Pandor, Key Cities Lead (Young People) and Leader of Kirklees Council, comments.

“It’s absolutely essential that we gain a clear input from young people if we are to develop strong and forward-looking city economies in the post-Brexit UK. We have developed this report to tap into young people’s ideas and creativity and enhance our capacity to bring forward innovative ideas, and allow Key Cities to act as a national test bed for new approaches and ideas.”

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