People aged 18-24 are anxious about their future, and two in three have lowered their career aspirations
“This research provides a blunt warning that the cost-of-living crisis threatens the futures, aspirations and wellbeing of an entire generation, if we do not act now.” Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive, Prince’s Trust
Two-thirds of young people believe they will never be financially secure, research has found.
The research, based on interviews with 2,500 young people aged 18-24, was carried out for the Prince’s Trust with the LadBible Group. It found that two-thirds have lowered their career expectations. The cost of living, the state of the UK economy and their own mental health were named as the biggest factors.
Many young people said the cost-of-living crisis meant they were only able to plan for the short term: half of those surveyed said they were not able to think beyond the next six months.
The biggest barriers cited by young people to achieving their ambitions included a lack of self-confidence, along with a lack of opportunity and experience. The study found that nearly three-quarters of those questioned were anxious about their futures because of the cost-of-living crisis.
The report also found the high cost of living had forced over a quarter of the young people either to leave education or start thinking about leaving it. Of those living at home, 44% said they could not move out because they were needed to help their families pay the household bills.
When asked about their long-term life goals, maintaining good physical and mental health and simply living happily were among the top answers. Almost two-thirds said they needed to prioritise any job over their dream job, while more than 40% had changed their career plans in the past year. Almost 60% said they had lowered their long-term aspirations over the past two years.
Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: “This research provides a blunt warning that the cost-of-living crisis threatens the futures, aspirations and wellbeing of an entire generation, if we do not act now.”
He added: “Young people have already had an integral part of their lives disrupted by the pandemic, whether it be their education or early careers, and these findings show that the continued economic uncertainty is forcing them to make decisions which will compound this further.
“We’re seeing young people left feeling worried and unconfident about ever achieving their aspirations and thinking only in the short term – this could have significant impact for their futures and for wider society.”
Vicki Nash, associate director of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Mind, the mental health charity, said: “When the country is struggling with widespread economic difficulties, it can really affect the mental health of younger people, with jobs being harder to find and worries about our financial safety being an everyday occurrence.
“Mind’s own polling earlier this year showed that the mental health of 59% of people aged 16 to 24 in England and Wales had been impacted by the state of Britain’s economy, showing just how prevalent these worries are.”
The research coincides with a survey published by British Gas showing that more than a quarter of people (27%) feel the cost-of-living crisis has left them struggling with their mental health, with those living in Edinburgh and Leicester the worst affected. Other cities where people were badly affected include Glasgow, London, Newcastle and Leeds, the survey of 2,000 people found.
Just over half (55%) of those surveyed believed their mental health would definitely improve if they were more financially stable. One in four said they were expecting to struggle to pay their energy bills through the rest of the year, while 24% said the current cost-of-living crisis has been just as bad for their mental health as the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cost-of-living crisis has taken its toll on many people’s mental health. Young people are particularly badly affected, often having to struggle with high housing costs, low wages, insecure jobs and student debt. It is no surprise that in these circumstances, young people feel their poor mental health is affecting their ability to plan for the future. As well as offering better support to improve young people’s mental wellbeing, we need to tackle the bigger economic problems at the source of their distress.