I just finished reading “Generation Flux” a report on youth (15-24 years) produced by the Community Foundations of Canada as part of their annual “Vital Signs” report series. Well worth the read, the report (found here) highlights many trends though I consider the following most pertinent:
– youth are quick adapters to our changing world
– youth are seeking more educational experiences than ever
– youth are facing the challenges of increasing debt-load for post-secondary education (uni debt average = $28K; college = $11K)
– youth are facing diminishing work prospects and are twice as likely to be unemployed as older adults (+30)
– youth report they are feeling increasing stress about their prospects (work opps, debt load, begin adult life, etc.). Almost 50% of youth are now reporting psychological distress
I perceive these trends to be interconnected, circumscribing a social ecology of our youth. And I see these trends converging in some very troubling ways. In interview after interview yesterday, accompanying this report, youth spoke of the discouragemt they are feeling from the sum total of these characteristics.
Yes, our (adult) society is presently burdened with exceptional challenges, but we do the present generation of youth much damage if we fail to address these trends in meaningful ways. Failure to do so will mean the troubling trends deepen and continue weakening the fabric and resiliency of Canadian society.
Below, I offer some suggestions to help address these troubling trends. These will require coordination between public and private sectors, non-profits and educational institutions:
– youth be offered more opportunities for gaining work and volunteer experiences in communities and businesses
– more learning innovations be available to youth and especially experiences for self-directed learning that go far beyond conventional schooling practices
– youth be offered more opportunities for self-enterprise and entrepreneurism
– that more opportunities for stress-reduction self-management be made available to youth; there is national recognition and action focused on a youth “obesity” problem; it’s time for national action on a growing “mental health” problem among youth
– that funding be diverted from military expenditures to supporting educational opportunities for qualifying youth
It’s clear to me – this generation needs our help – but conserving the status quo won’t do that.
For information on my book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (2011) and to order a copy, go here.