How open are Northern Ireland's 16-year-olds to the world?

We asked Northern Ireland's 16-year-olds about their ambitions to go abroad for study, travel and work. 

With 2016 marking some of our most important historical centenaries,  we wanted to discover the younger generations’  attitude towards internalisation and language learning.

1,156 16-year-olds were surveyed using ARK’s  annual Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, which found they have a strong desire to work abroad and viewed learning an additional language as beneficial for their future.

Out of those surveyed, 20 were chosen to take part in a focus group, to learn more about their opinions on cultural life in Northern Ireland, learning languages and aspirations to study, live and work abroad.


Key findings in the survey included:

  • Over 60 per cent of 16-year-olds who completed it said they would consider working abroad; and 57 per cent said they considered going abroad for an apprenticeship or internship. 
  • Girls in Northern Ireland more likely than boys to consider studying abroad
  • Those in rural parts of Northern Ireland less likely to consider leaving than those from cities or suburbs
  • Same-sex attracted 16-year-olds more likely to think about going abroad for work/study or apprenticeships than their opposite-sex attracted counterparts
  • Northern Ireland’s 16-year-olds think learning an additional language would be beneficial for their future, with 65% feeling an additional language would be useful for travel and leisure


The full ARK report and findings can be downloaded below