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Changing the Future: Youth Insight report

Youth Report cover
Key Cities Newsdesk
July 6, 2018
The Key Cities Youth Survey makes clear the challenges for young people. It shows employability and skills are a key concern for young people, who feel they don’t receive enough good quality support in transitioning into work. It shows young people are interested in important issues like local decision-making and the environment but lack the understanding of how to influence them. It shows that mental health is a challenge for a large number of young people and many are physically inactive.

The Survey

During May/June 2018, 1,538 14-25 year olds completed an online questionnaire (69% from Key Cities). A further 35 young people (aged 16-19) took part in focus group discussions in Huddersfield, Bradford, and Derby.

Living: Housing

Whilst young people lose their confidence in owning their own home as they get older, a large number still expect to be owning their own home within five years.

  • One in three (32%) teens expected to be responsible for their own home within five years
  • Four in ten (40%) young adults expected to own their own home within five years and around the same (39%) expected to be renting
  • Teenagers are more likely to think they will own their home within 10 years (67%) than young adults (56%)


  • On the environment, it is clear that young people find environmental issues important, but many don’t see the impact of their own behaviour
  • Litter and fly-tipping were particular concerns for young people, though they also spoke of global warming and air quality
  • Young people feel their day-to-day activities don’t have an impact on large-scale environmental change like plastic in the oceans

Other findings include:

  • The use of public transport declines with age, mostly because of cost and reliability
  • One in four young people (23%) said they were responsible for caring for a family member outside of work
  • Young people described money management, including looking after finances, loans, and paying taxes, as marking the threshold for adulthood


On physical health, many young people are inactive and smoke, with some drinking excessively.

  • Four in ten teens (39%) and almost half of young adults (48%) are physically inactive (exercising for less than an hour a week)
  • One in twenty teenagers drink over 15 units per week compared to one in ten young adults
  • One in six teenagers and one in three young adults said they smoked. Around one in ten teenagers and young adults said they vaped

Mental health is a challenge for a significant number of young people

  • Almost one in four (23%) young people scored their mental health 3 out of ten or less
  • Exams, bullying, and family problems were mentioned as causes or agitators

Employability and skills

Young people haven’t found careers advice or work experience opportunities useful. They are equally aware of degree and apprenticeship opportunities and equal numbers are considering them.

  • Half of young people think better careers advice would have resulted in a better career direction for them
  • Almost eight in ten young people said they had either never had careers advice (39%) or their careers advice had not helped them get the job they wanted (40%)
  • Around four in ten (44%) don’t or didn’t know where to go to get extra careers advice
  • When asked how careers advice could be improved, young people said careers advisors needed to spend more time getting to know them (44%), have more sessions with them (41%), and more involvement with local and national businesses (40%)
  • Four in ten young people hadn’t had work experience. Of those who had, two in three said they had work experience somewhere where they wouldn’t want to work full-time
  • Equal numbers of young people were considering university and apprenticeships, but six in ten think a degree gives them the best chance of getting a great job

Our place in the world

Young people don’t feel engaged in local democracy or community decision-making, don’t understand politics well enough, and don’t know who their local politicians are, even though they think they have the biggest impact on their lives.

  • MPs, Councillors, and other politicians were rated as having the biggest impact on young people’s lives, but over half couldn’t say who their local MP is (57%) and almost four in five couldn’t say who their local councillor is (78%)
  • Nine in ten young people said it was important, very important, or extremely important that young people are involved in decision-making in their local community
  • However, two thirds of young people (66%) said they had never considered getting involve in decision making in their local community
  • Young people scored themselves 3 out of 10 for their involvement in local democracy
  • A third of young people hadn’t voted in the local elections, with the general feeling that politics was too complex and they didn’t understand it well enough
  • Young people are generally dissatisfied with Brexit, but some are optimistic
  • Young people scored the Government 3 out of 10 for their performance in delivering Brexit
  • Almost half (45%) of young people expect Brexit to make Britain worse
  • One in six (17%) expect it to improve Britain.

Spending priorities

Finally, we asked young people to rate a series of spending options for £10 million.

  • Education and skills got the best overall score, with training, apprenticeships, and reducing university tuition fees scoring highest overall as the best use of the money.


Young people have identified the key challenges they face in the years ahead. Their ideas and creativity will always be a key part of any solution. Key Cities have listened to young people to enhance our joint capacity to tackle these.

Download the report here.

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