Research Project

Great Expectations: The next steps for a new generation
23 January, 2013

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Young people face a widening ‘expectation gap’ as their dreams of a stable career, home and family become ever more unattainable, localism think tank NLGN warns today in its report Great Expectations: The Next Steps for a New Generation.

NLGN, supported by leading public sector insurer Zurich Municipal, shows that the millennial generation have high aspirations that cannot be met by today’s flagging economy, creating the danger of widespread disaffection.

NLGN argues that local government can play a crucial role in bridging this expectation gap by channelling the energy and enthusiasm of young people into bold, new schemes such as the Place Corps, modelled on the US Peace Corps, supporting them in spending a year or more contributing to their local area via social enterprises.

Far from popular images of hoodies and feckless teenagers, today’s young people emerge from the research as being hardworking strivers, with responsible attitudes to drink, drugs and sex combined with high levels of ambition to succeed in life.

But at a time when exceptionally high youth unemployment has seen some commentators predicting a ‘lost generation’, the report warns how these strivers could become disillusioned. Without positive action from both central and local government, today’s emerging strivers could be forced to the fringes of society, withdrawing their energy and talents from their communities.

NLGN Director Simon Parker, stated:
“We’ve raised our young people to expect a bright future, but there is a real danger that society cannot deliver on that promise. Local authorities can play a key role in channelling teenage energy into positive social action, instead of letting it curdle into disappointment and resentment. Young people are not the hooded thugs of popular myth. Under the right circumstances, they can be the responsible social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”


Zurich Municipal’s Head of Public Sector, Andrew Jepp added:

“Young people are tomorrow’s electorate, and the business and community leaders of the future. However, they are facing significant challenges currently and it is essential they are not left alone to tackle them. As well as the private sector, public service providers have the scope to engage with young people and prevent disillusionment by presenting them with lasting career opportunities, unlocking their potential. The alternative would be a less cohesive society which could well have damaging long-term ramifications for the public sector.”

Publication Date: 23 January 2013
Authored by: Dr Claire Mansfield