The preliminary results from the One Million Voices Youth Research 2 were launched today as a part of the 19th YMCA World Council in Chiang Mai.
One Million Voices 2 (OMV) is the second release of YMCA global research into young people aged 17- 20 years old and was conducted across 25 countries.
Secretary General Johan Vilhelm Eltvik said the research gives further voice to a generation of young people greatly affected by globalisation, rapid technological advances and social and political shifts.
“Despite the differences in cultures and languages – young people across the world face many similar disadvantages in areas like employment, education and mental illness. “The second part of One Million Voices goes deeper into exploring how the YMCA can better ensure these young people are heard and supported.
“We are the oldest and largest youth movement in the world. We reach millions of young people globally and we have a responsibility to not only listen to them, but to support and empower them.”
The results highlight young people’s critical needs in the areas of employment, health, environment and civic engagement and propose solutions on how to address these issues.The initial findings of this research showed that:
1. Educational systems are failing young people with a stronger focus on practical skills and individual approaches needed
The research shows that young people are very critical of the education system as it does not empower them or teach them skills needed for the current job market. They want respect and a personalised approach to learning. Public school system are poor at meeting these needs.
Advocacy by the YMCA:
• All public education should be fully accessible
• Focus on the importance of global and local issues and value of their own society
2. A “good job” should be a place for personal development and wellbeing and a job with a high salary and high stress is not worth it.
The average unemployment level globally is twice as high for young people.Young people are willing to work, the most important profiles of a good job is one that attributes to satisfaction, self-development and wellbeing, followed by stability and salary.
Volunteer work is also recognised as not being a guaranteed ticket into the workforce.
Advocacy by the YMCA:
• Creating stable workplaces that offer ‘flexicurity’ a new approach to modern workplaces
• Supporting youth entrepreneurship
3. Poor mental health is a rising health issue and depression is seen as prevalent everywhere, positive interpersonal relationships seen as key
The research shows mental illness is a major concern of young people and may be caused by increase in stress due to a number of factors such as unclear and insecure futures, poor relationships, physical problems, poverty, social exclusion or isolation.
For many young people good relationships with their loved ones are the precondition for personal happiness and helping them through difficult periods. Being able to solve problems and build resilience means becoming stronger.
Yet young people see a severe lack in resources and support services for mental health issues in both developing and developed countries. Integrated services into schooling was seen as essential for addressing rising rates of poor mental health.
4. A healthy lifestyle is too commercialised yet access to affordable sport facilities is important
Young people want to actively use sports facilities but there are still issues around accessibility, including equipment that is suitable for both genders. Gyms and centres need to focus on emphasising the important of ‘soul, mind and body balance’ rather than commercialised products and services.
5. Campaigns have effectively raised environmental awareness but at a local level little is being done
The research shows that young people are aware of global issues however only see solutions at a macro level for government and big corporations and a micro level such as personal responsibility in recycling and saving water. There is a huge gap in how to influence their communities to be more sustainable at a local level.
6. Civic engagement at a local level gives more opportunities than national initiatives and young people prefer community-orientated leadership
Young people feel they have limited impact on changing their society. However, at the same time they believe they have big opportunities at a local level. Young people respond to leadership that is community-orientated, organises a group and brings out its full potential. The World YMCA leadership programme ‘YMCA Change Agents’ is seen as successfully developing leaders.
Proposed advocacy by the YMCA
• Youth programs which raise self-esteem among young people Supportive programs which help young people feel they have control over their life.
• Building good relationships with their environments.
About the YMCA
Working for social justice for all youth, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture, the World Alliance of YMCAs is a global ecumenical Movement reaching 60 million people in 120 countries worldwide. Founded in 1855, the World Alliance of YMCAs is the oldest and largest movement for youth in the world.
About the YMCA One Million Voices Youth Research Project:
The first report was released in 2015 and is believed to be the world’s largest research project listening to young people aged 15-24. It was conducted by the YMCA in 55 countries.
One Million Voices Research 2 continues this research. The final report will be available later in the year.