We're all familiar with the stereotypical teenager; angsty, adventurous and carefree. But it seems that today's teenagers are less Ferris Bueller, Adrian Mole or Cher from Clueless, and more akin to those young people achieving extraordinary things at an early age - such campaigner Malala Yousef, entrepreneur Nick D'Aloisio and singer Lorde.
After growing up through and making it out of a recession, despite falling youth unemployment, Generation Z are actively seeking to secure their financial futures as soon as possible.
The latest research from the Scottish Widows Centre for the Modern Family think tank has found that young people born in 1998 or later prioritise jobs and financial security, and that three quarters of 16-18 year olds crave stability in their lives - more so than any other generation. Interestingly, the data showed us that financial stability isn't just a pipe dream. In fact, those on the cusp of adulthood have clear and traditional ambitions for how they will reach their goals. Six in ten already know which field they want their career to be in, almost three in ten (28%) want to prioritise finding a well-paid job and almost two thirds (63%) plan to go to university to set them on their path.
While Generation Z's intentions are of course commendable, it is concerning that growing up in a financial recession has clearly had such an impact on their attitudes about their future at such a tender age. With figures out this week from the Department for Education showing that more than a third of teenage girls are now suffering with anxiety and depression it's never been more important to ensure that our nation's young people are able to achieve their ambitions without feeling under undue amounts of pressure and stress.
Although their parents are undoubtedly proud of their grit and determination, our research also flagged some of their concerns, with almost a quarter (23%) of parents worried that their children will miss out on life experiences as a result of this focus. By contrast to their children's traditional ambitions, only a third (34%) of parents actually want their children to go to university and many are concerned about their children gaining qualifications that won't be valuable in the workplace.
Parents are also reticent about their children's plans of settling down into adult responsibilities too soon. While over one in five 16-18 year olds plan to focus on starting a family, three quarters (75%) of parents only want their children to start a family once they have enjoyed more life experiences. In addition, while only a fifth (19%) of 16-18 year olds plan to travel the world before they start work, over half (56%) of parents want their children to ensure they make time to do this.
It's fantastic to see such drive and ambition from the next generation - and we should absolutely nurture and encourage this. However, it disheartens me that the pressure of social media, academic expectations and worries about their ability to ever find a job or get on the housing ladder is clearly taking its toll on the adults of tomorrow. Whether planning for higher education, that all-important first job or dabbling with an idea to travel the world, young people need to be encouraged and supported by their families and educators to help them reach their goals - while still enjoying the benefits of being young and carefree. It's only with this support system in place that they'll be able to achieve the stability they're striving for.
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