‘Next Generation’ is a series of global British Council research focusing on the attitudes and aspirations of young people, and the policies and conditions that support them in becoming creative, fulfilled and active citizens. The research projects examines young people’s views around education, employment, and lifestyle, as well as uncovering their hopes and fears for their country, their degree of international engagement and views on the wider world, and the values and beliefs that affect their lives. In countries where we have conducted multiple Next Generation reports, the first acts as a benchmark, with later reports taking more of a deep dive into a given area, such as democratic engagement or experience of conflict.
WHY NEXT GENERATION?
The Next Generation programme is part of the British Council’s commitment to exploring youth voice and choice, and to putting research at the heart of our programming. The stated aims of the programme are to:
- Understand youth attitudes and aspirations
- Amplify youth voice
- Support better youth policy-making
The British Council believes it is important to listen to and engage with the young population as they will become the next generation of influencers, leaders and shapers of their countries.
RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM THE NEXT GENERATION UK REPORT
The Next Generation research conducted in the UK in 2017 focused on three key themes:
The UK's place in the world: young adults in the UK were left frustrated in their ambitions for the UK to remain a member of the EU. While just 50 per cent of their number turned out to vote, 69 per cent voted in favour of Remain compared to 31 per cent Leave. With the reverse true of people aged over 65, the EU Referendum revealed a rupture between the generations. According to our survey, six in ten of all young adults would vote to remain a member of the EU if another referendum were held tomorrow.
Political and social engagement: while the majority of young adults voted differently, a considerable amount of research shows the very low level of youth engagement in politics.Adding to existing data showing the gap in turnout between younger and older generations during recent elections and referendums, our survey of young adults found that the majority indeed have very low engagement in the formal political process. While a small majority have voted in an election (56 per cent), just 7 per cent said they had joined a political party. One in six have contacted an MP, and one in ten their local councillor.
Opportunities in education and work: young adults across the UK are almost split down the middle on the extent to which the education system is adequately preparing young people for work, and generally life as an adult. Our focus groups across the UK found common frustrations with an education system built around examinations and academic routes, at the expense of greater vocational options and the teaching of key life skills. While some young adults have landed on their feet, lack of jobs, employer attitudes, barriers to suitable work experience, and access to higher education are cited by many young adults as continued problems; with around half of those we surveyed (49 per cent) feeling they live in a socially mobile society.
HOW ARE YOUTH PERCEPTIONS GATHERED?
The Next Generation series uses a mixed-methodology approach to gather data in all countries in which the research has been undertaken. All Next Generation reports complete a desk-based literature review and conduct a national survey with a diverse segment of the young population which covers both urban and rural locations. A number of interviews and/or focus group discussions are also conducted, tailored to the needs of each project.
The methodology and sample size varies slightly between each country and will be explained in more detail within each report.
WILL THERE BE MORE REPORTS?
The first Next Generation report was launched in 2009 in Pakistan. This was followed by two more reports on youth voice in the country, each focusing on a different area of interest. Due to the report’s success, the research has since been replicated in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Turkey, the UK, and Ukraine. Each of these reports was launched in reaction to a pivotal time in that country’s history and ensured the views of young people were reflected in national and international dialogues.