'Suspended adulthood' challenges all of us

Friday 23 September 2016

Carole3As the Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, it's been great to see the huge interest in our latest report, 'No Country for Young Women' which came out yesterday. From being featured on BBC Breakfast to being the lead item on the Guardian's website, it was refreshing to see so much discussion about the challenges facing young people, especially young women. 

It may not have been his intention but I also wanted to thank Tom Utley for his piece in the Mail today about our report - which serves as a reminder of the importance of our work at Young Women's Trust.

I wonder why it is so difficult to hear that millions of young people are struggling and that many are in financial crisis. That this affects their confidence and well-being is no surprise. That young women are particularly affected is also no surprise as on average their prospects are not as good as young men’s. They are more likely to be workless, they are over-represented in low paid and insecure jobs and they are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression. By trying to minimise the important messages which our research, based on an independent and representative survey, has brought into the limelight he does young people a disservice. 

I am in complete agreement with Tom that many young women are lucky enough to be extremely confident and have well paid jobs. But personally I find it completely shocking that 8% of young parents are using food-banks and that millions of young people are worried about the future and in “suspending adulthood”, delaying having children and unable to afford housing.

This matters now. The emotional and practical toll of long term debt and anxiety on millions of young people will impact on them and the services they will need to support them.

And it matters in the longer term. There is evidence to show that it is likely that young people will, throughout their lives, be less well off than the older generation. There are big gaps opening up between the skills that young people have and the growing opportunities for employment in industries such as ICT and construction which will contribute to our economic development.  Buying a home will only be possible for those who are lucky enough to have access to family support. So the divide between haves and have nots will continue to grow.

This matters to all of us, which is why we will not waver from our commitment to supporting young women to ensure they can have fair financial futures.