Generation Next: Optimistic yet Realistic

A new report that presents the findings from the 2014 Young People Omnibus Survey of pupils in state secondary schools in England and Wales has been published today. Carried out by Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute on behalf of the National Children’s Bureau the purpose of the survey is to take stock of what young people are saying. Generation Next are children and young people born around the turn of the Millennium, and are growing up in a world of technology and harsh economic challenges. They have some interesting things to say, particularly concerning social mobility and their concerns for getting on in life.

The 11-16 year olds asked were generally positive about the UK as a meritocracy, although socio-economic background emerges as a consideration of some. When asked about the impact of these factors on getting a well paid-job:

  • 74% believe gender makes no difference
  • 73% believe ethnicity makes no difference
  • 55% believe a private education makes no difference
  • 51% believe coming from a rich family makes no difference

35% of all students surveyed believe it is easier to get a well paid job if you are from a rich family, however this figure increases with age, if the numbers are broken down into age groups. This was common across a number of questions – those aged 14-16 were less positive about the future than the younger children.

When asked if they expected life to be better for them than it was for their parents, only 37% responded yes. This is in stark contrast to the response from the Baby Boomers generation, of whom 70% believe they had a better life than their parents. In fact, as this image shows, cohorts optimism about their quality of life has been decreasing generation on generation. Might this be an indicator of lessening social mobility?


Generation Next are worried. 2 in 5 believe it will harder for them to buy a house and 3 in 5 are worried about future job opportunities. Growing up surrounded by high numbers of youth unemployment, austerity measures and housing crises, many of Generation Next have already experienced financial hardship first hand.

Helen Robinson