“The UK’s decision to leave the EU has left many young people feeling uncertain about the future…” (British Council, 2017) A new report from the “Next Generation” research series has reignited the discussion about Brexit, young people and their position in the EU.
We know several things about Generation Y, those who now sit at the upper end of the “young person” definition, and many of these observations are true of their fellow Generation Zs. We know they are the generation that will earn less than their parents; they will be unable to get on the property ladder, instead forced into never-ending renting; all the while facing ongoing social, political and environmental crises. Meanwhile, they have had a hard time in the press; the first true children of the internet age, they have been accused of being “lazy”, “stuck to their screens” and unable to commit to anything.
The reality is that we are discussing a group of young people that spans 15 years, a plethora of origins and as a result a cacophony of issues. Their restlessness is a symptom of the trends the baby boomers forced on them. It is unsurprising that we have now two new generations of young people who are really trying to forge a path in this world that is completely overgrown, outdated and unrealistic. The facts are that Gen Y and Gen Z have a tough time ahead and the uncertainty we all feel about Brexit is leeching into every decision young people are facing as they grow up in an unstable world.
This specially commissioned research report demonstrates just how large a gap there is between the rhetoric of those older groups who voted remain and the 69% of young people that did not. Two thirds of young adults say they have an international outlook, an unsurprising finding considering the world of borderless technology they live in; keeping in touch with people all around the world is effortless. Over half of young people have ambition to work abroad as the restless generation seeks new experiences alongside the constant need to develop employability in such competitive work climates.
In comparison, the socio-economic barriers begin to become apparent with the remainder of young people who don’t have such internationalist views. The report considers financial status and lack of access to foreign experiences meaning they have a less positive view on global influence over the UK. It recommends beginning to bridge that gap, apparently caused by a lack of finance and education, which might bring more young people an opportunity to engage in the international community.
This is all well and good, more opportunities for all being vital, but there needs to be protection for young people in the Brexit process. Less young people will take up the opportunities abroad that are currently on offer and those opportunities may soon disappear. The last thing we want is for this to be the last international generation because we have closed our borders, not only on those coming in, but on the minds of those kept inside.
For opportunities for young people abroad, visit www.eurodesk.org.uk and look out for their Time to Move campaign next month.
Here at IARS, the 99% Campaign will be hosting an event for marginalised young people, with a focus on young carers, to discuss the impact of Brexit with their MPs. For more information or a chance to attend contact firstname.lastname@example.org.