YMCA Global Youth Research

Date: 20 December 2018


• “Education systems are failing us …”
• “A good job … but not at any price…”
• “Mental health issues are rising …”
• “Healthy lifestyles are too commercialised … “
• “Why is so little being done in real environmental change …”
• “Community-orientated leadership is the solution.”

The World YMCA movement has released its 2018 update of the world’s largest ongoing youth research. Demonstrating its commitment to hearing the young people of the world, the YMCA, as the world’s oldest and largest youth social movement, is committed to empowering all young people, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture.

The research, entitled One Million Voices 2018, is the second release of YMCA global research and builds on the 2015 Report with a qualitative review of young people aged 17-20 across 26 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 have a responsibility to not only listen to them, but to support and empower them.”

Consulting Professor, Marek Rymsza from the University of Warsaw, said:
“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.

One of the aims of OMV2 research was to learn how young people in their conversations with each other characterize themselves as a generation. Signs of a globalised generation often appeared in young people’s discussions.

Some experiences seem to be shared despite the financial status or geographical location. The decisive factors here are two interrelated phenomena: the information technology revolution and the ever increasing spatial mobility.”


The findings of the 2018 Research showed that for many young people across the world:

1. Educational systems are failing young people with a stronger focus on practical skills and individual approaches needed

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

3. Poor mental health is a rising health issue and depression is seen as prevalent everywhere, positive interpersonal relationships seen as key

4. A healthy lifestyle is too commercialised yet access to affordable sport facilities is important

5. Campaigns have effectively raised environmental awareness but at a local level little is being done

6. Civic engagement at a local level gives more opportunities than national initiatives and young people prefer community-orientated leadership

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 platform with a qualitative analysis conducted by YMCAs in 26 countries and moderated discussion groups.

Countries where the research took place: Albania, Australia, Belarus, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Egypt, Great Britain, Haiti, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, Zimbabwe.

Further information:
YMCA Youth Research