Young people feel depressed about their futures. Why? Blame it on the celebs.

Almost one in four young people feel depressed about their future due to a combination of pressures that harm their confidence, according to a new survey by our Think Big programme.


Not such a bright future
The findings reveal just how bleak young people consider their prospects to be and paint a picture of what they see as the contributing factors.

Only half feel confident they will have a secure job in the next five years, while 72 per cent say there are not enough good quality jobs for young people.

Why do young people feel this way?
When it comes to the root causes of this predicament, 57 per cent believe employers discriminate against them because of their age, whilst 54 per cent blame poor advice and support in finding work.

Young people also think that the media’s obsession with celebrity creates unachievable role models and is damaging to young people’s self esteem (82 per cent). Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) believe that the media portrays young people negatively and, as a consequence, young people are poorly perceived by adults in general (68 per cent), by employers (62 per cent).

How do we know this?
The findings are taken from O2 Youth Matters, the first instalment of a long-term research project designed to gain a unique understanding and insight into the outlook, attitudes and opinions of young people. The findings will be published regularly to help create a picture of what young people in Britain think and feel about the important issues affecting their lives.

What do the experts have to say about all this?
Commenting on the research, Bill Eyres, Head of our Think Big programme, said: “Through our youth program, O2 works with hundreds of young people to help them play a positive role in their communities. We get the chance to hear firsthand how it feels to be a young person today, and we wanted to give them a bigger national platform to help them make their voice heard.

“The message from young people is clear. Given the very tough economic conditions and high levels of unemployment they face, they need support from Government and organisations to help them take action. The good news is there is growing evidence, as we’ve seen through O2’s Think Big programme, that giving young people the opportunity to make a difference in their community, by trusting them with funding, we can help provide them with a route back to confidence and employability.”

Teesside University’s youth and communities expert Professor Tony Chapman, who has helped shape and develop the O2 Youth Matters research project, said: “Young people are very aware of the many challenges that face them today. The survey results provide evidence to show just how worried young people are. It’s a warning shot to society, showing that steps must be taken to build the resilience of our young people.”

What should be done to change this?
Those questioned are clear on the steps necessary for improving their prospects, including:
•    The Government should incentivise employers to take on young people (81 per cent) and increase the number of on the job training opportunities (80 per cent)
•    Businesses should provide more structured volunteering programmes to develop work skills (73 per cent) and increase their involvement and support of careers advisory services (71 per cent)

And what does all this have to do with us?
O2 Think Big is an innovative £5 million programme designed to back young people aged 13-25 across the UK and help them harness their ideas, energy and passion to run projects and campaigns in their local community. The initiative works by putting cash directly in the hands of young people and supporting them to use the money in way which delivers a positive impact in their local area. In addition to the financial support, young people receive training and mentoring to help them tackle the local issues that really matter to them.  Find out more or get involved at http://www.o2thinkbig.co.uk/.

Read more about these findings from a different perspective at Sky, The Guardian & The Mirror.