By Mark Fairlie
Recent polls from the charity Pro Bono Economics show that only one in four adults believe children today get a better overall education than they did at school. 43% of survey respondents stated that their opinion is that schools are worse nowadays than they were when they were children.
The study, carried out by YouGov in preparation for the Pro Bono Economics annual lecture, paints a very bleak future for today’s youth on the current education system and on their future prospects.
Research from the Baker Dearing Educational Trust also found that almost half of parents were stressed about their child’s education, with 80% of parents believing the education system needs to be changed in order to better reflect 21st Century Britain.
Two-thirds of parents revealed that their biggest fear was that their children will not be able to find employment once they leave education.
Julia Grant, the chief executive of the charity that commissioned the survey, said:
“Whether or not our education system really is better or worse than a generation ago, this survey indicates that many British adults don’t believe that young people are being properly prepared for the world beyond school.”
Ms Grant stated that no matter whether a child went to university, further education, or into work after leaving school, parents felt that limits were being put on their life chances.
Struggling in adult life
These concerns for the school system are, evidently, deep-rooted within the UK but they are not the only problem. The public mood among Brits suggests today’s youth will have fewer guarantees of security as they reach their adult years.
The Pro Bono Economics survey found that two-thirds of British adults think young people today will be less likely to own their own home than their parents were. And, with the average house price standing at 7.6 times the average annual salary, many economists would argue this is a fair assumption.
According to the Guardian, the median price paid for a home has increased 259% between 1997 and 2016, whilst earnings have only risen 68% during the same period.
In addition to the growing ‘generation rent’, 57% of adults in the UK say today’s children will have less job security too. The gig economy is becoming increasingly relevant in the lives of the younger generations; however, it seems that this is not by choice.
A recent survey found that millennials across the globe crave job security above anything else, despite almost two-thirds of hiring managers calling the gig economy the “new normal”. Even those who wish to find a ‘job for life’ understand that this is no longer an option in today’s economy.
“It’s no surprise they’ve redefined what security means for them because they can’t count on the company to provide it,”
says Mara Swan, an executive vice-president at ManpowerGroup. She went on to say that young people nowadays tend to switch employers once they feel they are stagnating and not learning anything new.
Even for those that are able to find a job, old age also poses its own issues. In the original survey, 54% of adults thought today’s children would be less likely to benefit from a good pension. But according to Professor David Blake, director of the Pensions Institute at Cass Business School, “the danger now is we will have a generation who really can’t afford to retire” at all.
Almost half of those in the survey said that today’s youth would definitely be financially worse off than their parents’ generation.
Hope for the future
The survey did, on the other hand, turn up some optimistic views. Three-quarters of those asked believed today’s children would be more likely move to a more affluent area than their parents, with 78% stating they would be happier in their jobs and lives overall.
Only 19% of people in the survey thought children would be less likely to go to university in the future, with new and unique approaches to education being encouraged by as many as 44% of people.
Pro Bono Economics’ Julia Grant added:
“the positive we can take from these findings is that people are willing to put aside their scepticism and embrace more experimental approaches to improving children’s learning, attendance, grades and access to further education”.