- British Council report reveals that 18-30 year-olds in Northern Ireland have a considerable lack of faith in their relevant political institutions
- Only 20% of respondents from Northern Ireland were ‘optimistic’ about the country’s future versus 53% in Ireland
- Most respondents (86%) felt ‘very optimistic’ or ‘optimistic’ about their own future.
- Report reveals that over three quarters (77%) of 18-30 year-olds in both Northern Ireland and Ireland worry about a lack of jobs
- Four in five young people surveyed were most concerned about a lack of affordable housing (88% in Ireland, 79% in Northern Ireland)
A third of Northern Ireland’s young people have no trust in the Northern Ireland Assembly, according to a new report.
The Next Generation Ireland-Northern Ireland report, commissioned by the British Council, surveyed more than a thousand young people aged 18-30 to understand their attitudes and aspirations and to help support better policy making.
The report focused on education, employment, social issues, politics and future prospects, and supplemented the survey insights with sixteen focus groups, consisting of 80 young people in total.
Respondents in both Northern Ireland and Ireland reported a considerable lack of faith in their relevant political institutions.
In Northern Ireland, just 2% of respondents had complete trust in the Northern Ireland Assembly, while over a third (36%) indicated that they had absolutely no trust at all in the institution.
Similarly, only 1% of respondents in Ireland had complete trust in Dáil Éireann and around a fifth (21%) had absolutely no trust at all.
Among all respondents, just 1% trusted the European Parliament, while a fifth (19%) had no trust at all (22% reported no trust in Northern Ireland; 17% in Ireland).
Unsurprisingly, only (37%) of those surveyed in both Ireland and Northern Ireland would likely vote in an immediate general election.
Only 20% of Northern Ireland respondents were ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ about the way the country was going compared to 53% in Ireland. Yet concerns about Brexit were evenly distributed, with 52% of respondents in Ireland and 55% of respondents in Northern Ireland concerned to a ‘great extent’ or to ‘some extent’.
However, the majority (86%) of survey respondents felt ‘very optimistic’ or ‘optimistic’ about their own future. Many felt they are better off than their parents’ generation with 78% appreciating better access to educational opportunities and 62% reporting a better health outlook.
Young people who participated in the study generally indicated dissatisfaction with their educational experiences, with many fearing that they are not prepared for the challenges they are likely to face in future. This was most obvious in Northern Ireland, where only 50% suggested that their education had prepared them to a ‘great extent’ or to ‘some extent’ to live independently, compared to 62% in Ireland.
Concerns about employment were a significant issue for almost every young person involved in the study, particularly in Northern Ireland, where 90% of respondents were worried by a ‘lack of jobs’ to a ‘great extent’ or to ‘some extent’ (65% in Ireland). Northern Ireland respondents were also more likely to have concerns about ‘job security’ (85%; 73% in Ireland) and ‘low pay’ (89%; 74% in Ireland).
Lack of affordable housing was also seen as a particular issue for young people in Ireland, where 88% of respondents were concerned to a ‘great extent’ or to ‘some extent’, compared to 79% in Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the findings and the report, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: “We are really pleased to have supported this Next Generation research which helps to amplify young people’s voice at a really important juncture for those living here.
“The context of the twentieth anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and discussions around Brexit were the backdrop but as the research has found the findings go beyond this context. Many young people raised concerns about mental health, job security, education and modern day pressures arising from social media. Perhaps most significant was the reported widespread lack of trust in political institutions.”
The Next Generation Ireland/ Northern Ireland research which was carried out by The Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) is part of a global British Council research series focusing on the attitudes and aspirations of young people, and the policies and conditions that support them in becoming creative, fulfilled and active citizens.
Next Generation research has also been carried out in South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ukraine, Tanzania and the rest of the UK. The full report can be downloaded and viewed here: https://nireland.britishcouncil.org/programmes/our-work-society/next-gen....
The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland or Ireland, visit nireland.britishcouncil.org, https://www.britishcouncil.ie/ or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI/ @ieBritish