The research asked 1,101 young people aged 16 to 25 in the UK about their hopes and fears via an online survey during August to September 2011.
A repeat of research undertaken in 2008, it also explored their attitudes towards education, employment, housing, marriage and children to see what impact the changing economic climate may have had on young people’s aspirations.
When asked what their one fear for the future would be, more young people said debt (24 per cent), than death (four per cent) or their own poor health (three per cent). A fear of death had been top of the list in the same survey in 2008.
The research report Fear And Hoping In The UK also highlighted a substantial shift in young people’s priorities.
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When asked what their one wish for the future would be, ‘happiness’ had been the most popular answer in 2008, but moved down to third place in the 2011 survey.
Top of the list for most people now is ‘a job’ (32 per cent) and ‘financial security’ (19 per cent).
Undertaken after changes to university fees had been announced, the survey showed that while concern about being able to afford university has increased (24 per cent in 2011, up from 11 pere cent in 2008), this hasn’t dampened young people’s aspirations. 84 per cent of respondents who were still at school said they planned to go to college or university.
Emma Thomas, chief executive of YouthNet said: “Given the tough challenges that young people face, it’s clear that they have a real concern over the impact that this will have on their future. Fear about money and jobs are at the forefront of their minds but they remain focussed on achieving their goals.
“They still want to study, to get a good job, own their own home and support their family, but know how hard it’s going to be. They need the right support at these key times to ensure their aspirations become reality.”