The past fortnight has been a life defining period for many young people across the country. A Level and GCSE results are in and most will be contemplating their future prospects. Will it be further education, a gap year, an apprenticeship or for the bold, joining the workforce?
The annual conversation about the state of our education system will form the backdrop to young people's decision-making processes, with topics like the curriculum and tuition fees being hotly debated. But in the midst of the discussion about the future of our youth, will their own voices be heard?
As a nation that voted for Brexit and doesn't necessarily understand young people's fascination and faith in Corbyn, these 'big' days could be an opportunity for us to find out the truth about our young people.
There have been innumerable surveys and research into the characteristics of millennials and Generation Z, analysing everything from their family values to levels of brand loyalty. The results might give us some insight into the psyche of the younger generation, but are we using this information to help shape a better nation?
As a father of two and CEO of a UK wide business, one of my most provocative sources is my children. At 19 and 21, they see the world from a different place and with a different set of views. Their ideas inform mine and although they can make me feel distinctly old at times, they also help me to stay younger and more current in the way I think and feel.
It's not, I hasten to add, simply a sample of two young people. McCann Worldgroup, my agency, recently uncovered some fascinating facts about other UK young people that corroborate the difference.
The results show that 18-24 year olds set themselves apart as a distinct voice in national opinions and consistently bucked many of the trends shown in the rest of the nation. This might shed some light on the so called 'Corbyn' effect on young people which has mystified so many older people.
Interestingly, a third of the young people believed brands should make political statements, versus just under one sixth across all age groups. They admire innovative global technology companies above all, but take their politics seriously and vote with their wallets. 39% would refuse to buy from companies that hold different political views from them, which again was the highest across all age segments.
To me this seems an encouraging sign that we have raised a generation that is starting to understand the perils of political apathy. Businesses are increasingly having to publicly declare what values they stand for in order to attract younger people. In the long run, this trend could prove to be beneficial for businesses, as it can help to shape company culture, trading ethos and business practices.
The term 'digital native' is synonymous with both millennials and Generation Z, and one of the most noticeable products of their digitally engaged world has been the rise of influencers, especially online. However, this does not eliminate the need for 'traditional mentors' and inspirational teachers, friends, or family members in young people's lives. It's not unusual for a teenage girl to log on to YouTube and watch a Zoella makeup tutorial video, followed by an Elon Musk TED talk. As with generations before them, today's young people still value aspirational figures, and living in a digital world does not change this. It is our collective responsibility to continue to ensure that there is a diverse range of inspirational figures for young people to look up to, whether this is in our boardrooms, Houses of Parliament or on our television screens.
For the young people who have received results this is a crossroads in their education and lives - it may also be the decisive time for us to learn some lessons from them.Suggest a correction