It's the big issues that matter


By Jackie Grisdale

I posted recently about our first wave of findings from our research with 2,000 young people aged 16-22. Undoubtedly, the turbulent times which we live in have had a significant influence on the lives of our young people – and against this backdrop, we also wanted to understand what young people are really concerned about right now.

And racism dominates as the top issue of extreme concern.

Perhaps unsurprisingly a higher proportion of Black Heritage (63%) respondents are extremely concerned about racism, but concern about racism is high amongst females too (58%).

And while there is an ongoing concern about climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, these aren’t the issues dominating the concerns of the 2,000 young people we spoke to. Equality (36%), violent crime (34%) human rights (33%) and discrimination (32%) follow racism as the issues of primary concern amongst all young people, regardless of their demographic.

Mental health continues to be a top issue of concern for nearly a third of the young people we surveyed. However, levels of concern about mental health vary depending on the audience segment we looked at. Concerns about mental health didn’t make it into the top 10 for male or BAME respondents, but there was higher concern amongst females, those with a long-term disability and the LGBTQ+ community.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, equality is also a top issue concerning underrepresented groups.

Half of those identifying as gay or lesbian stated equality was an issue of concern, followed by 48% of bisexual respondents, 42% of Black Heritage and female respondents and 35% of those with a long-term physical disability.

In addition to equality being a top issue of concern, we saw discrimination appear in our top five issues of concern among young people. 43% of Black Heritage respondents stated this as an issue which was extremely concerning, we also saw a heightened concern amongst females.

We also asked how many of our respondents felt that they face discrimination.

And a staggering 59% responded that they regularly feel discriminated against.

And it is across a range of different issues. Appearance, Gender, Mental Health and Race are the top areas. Discrimination with regards to race was unsurprisingly higher among those of Black Heritage, and from qualitative responses, we saw how Black Heritage and Mixed Race respondents are acutely aware of the impact that racism has on their lives.

It’s disheartening that there are such high levels of concern for so many of these issues, particularly amongst underrepresented groups. But the message from our research was very clear. Young people care about these issues, and they make decisions based on it.

We asked if their concern about these issues affects how they act and make decisions and it does. Particularly the decisions they make about careers and education.

  • Two fifths of those with concerns about future employment opportunities, strongly agree that it influences their decisions about education and careers.
  • 37% strongly agree that their concern about money and financial hardship influences their career and education decisions.
  • A third strongly agreed that their concern about mental health influences career and education choices.
  • And 37% who are concerned about equality say career and education choices are influenced by their concern about the issue.

So, do you really understand how the events of the last 12-18 months have impacted the decisions and choices of your audience? They demand action when it comes to these big issues. And they will choose, or not choose you as a result of how they feel that you position yourselves on them.

If you’d like our help or want to hear more about our latest research, get in touch.

You can download the pdf version of the report here.