There is much debate in the media at present about youth unemployment, with official European figures revealing record levels, so much so that individual countries are planning ways to tackle it before it reaches crisis point. However, whilst unemployment in the UK is still high with approximately one fifth of 18 - 24 year olds unemployed, a very encouraging picture of youth activity has emerged in the UK from a new report, The Community Census Report. Official statistics for younger age groups often focus on those who are not in employment, education or training, however, as The Community Census Report reveals, this particular angle misses a more positive aspect of young Britons lives' - how involved they are with their local communities.
We commissioned the report with economics experts CEBR to examine the impact community organisations such as charity and voluntary groups, religious bodies and heritage buildings and sites have in the UK, not just on an emotional level, but also in pure monetary terms. It indicated that as the UK economy takes tentative steps to recover, these organisations are projected to be worth £27.5 billion to the UK in 2013, roughly equivalent to the combined economies of Liverpool and Manchester. This is an increase of £1 billion from £26.5 billion in 2012. The Community Census Report reveals that the figure of £27.5 billion in terms of contribution to the economy is equivalent to 1.7% of this year's total UK GDP.
Further research from the report suggests that it could actually be young people's involvement that has helped spearhead the growth over the last year, with 18 - 34 year olds being the most active age group in their local communities. One in five 18 - 34 year olds (3 million young adults) attend or support at least one of their local charities, religious groups or heritage properties - a greater proportion than any other generation. I think there is a perception that younger people maybe care less about their communities and it is older generations who are most active, because they have the time to do so. However, our report is encouraging and surprising in that it indicates that this isn't the case.
One of the main reasons for this increasing involvement is the desire by younger people to acquire new knowledge and skills at a time when the cost of further education and opportunities to get placements to learn on the job are few and far between.
This report, which I hope will be the first of many, paints an encouraging picture of the views of younger people and their involvement in our communities. I hope it will help us all have a better understanding of the younger generation today. I also hope it will encourage us all to enable them to and support them with becoming even more involved in our communities going forward and in doing so, I hope it will lead to more enriched lives for all concerned.
The full report can be found here: http://www.ecclesiastical.com/general/press-office/index.aspx