Employment, education and body image worry young people most

The biggest obstacles to happiness for British young people have been revealed in our research.
10 May 2016

Failing to succeed within the education system, a lack of employment opportunities and concerns related to body image are the top issues affecting young people’s happiness, according to new Central YMCA research.

The research, published in our World of Good report, questioned 1,600 UK 16-25 year olds about the issues affecting their ability to build happier lives for themselves.

Their responses have been used to create an index of issues, with the most common (i.e. those that cause most harm) scoring 100.

It’s essential that we continue to listen to the needs of young people and find ways to address issues causing them harm
Rosi Prescott, YMCA Chief Executive

Lack of employment opportunities came out top with 100, failing to succeed within the education system came second with 92, while issues relating to body image came out third with 86.

The research also investigated what young people felt were the main barriers to overcoming these challenges.

Being in a low income bracket, a lack of employment opportunities, or poor education and health issues (including mental health) were all highlighted as the major concerns.

“The challenges facing young people today are wide, complex and constantly changing, which is why it’s essential that we continue to listen to the needs of young people and find ways to address issues causing them harm” said Rosi Prescott, CEO at Central YMCA.

Concerns about body image, or the impact of always-on social networks, cause genuine harm
Rosi Prescott, YMCA Chief Executive

She added: “Our research has unearthed crucial insight into some of the biggest issues facing our young people today, and will help shape the future direction of Central YMCA.

“Central YMCA has been evolving its support for young people for over 170 years, responding to the needs of Victorian society, post-war Britain and now the modern digital age.

“It may be that the current age has a higher quality of life than previous generations, but the emerging challenges such as concerns about body image, or the impact of always-on social networks cause genuine harm, especially to the most vulnerable young people within our society.

“What’s clear from the findings of this report is the interrelationship between the major challenges facing our young people. As a consequence, our priority should be to help people in the round, not in isolation. To address these complex challenges, the agencies supporting young people need to work in partnership and be open to all parts of society.”

Read the full list of rankings and the report.

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