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Young Brits risk becoming Generation Never

New study by Coursera finds UK young adults are uncertain about whether they'll ever achieve important life goals

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | November 05, 2016 | Business

Research by Coursera has revealed the emergence of “Generation Never” - young people aged between 22-35 years old worry they run the risk of not achieving key milestones traditionally associated with becoming an adult. 

A quarter of young adults in the UK (22%) feel they are ill-prepared financially to move out of the family home and over a third (38%) are not financially ready to start a family, even though all those surveyed are employed. More worrying is that 31% say they can’t currently afford to pay into a pension, showing that the future is uncertain for many young people in the UK. 

So what is the reason for this anxiety in our young adults? Worryingly, over a third (39%) believe that the skills they have are becoming less relevant in their current careers – some of whom only completed their university degrees a few years ago. The study also found that only half (57%) believe their current career path will enable them to achieve their life goals, and 41% feel a lack of training is holding them back.

To keep up with the changing work environment a third (32%) said they needed to improve their digital skills, which is surprising considering this is a digitally native generation. 41% of respondents said they needed to build leadership skills and a similar number (42%) were concerned about people management skills. A quarter (26%) are already concerned with a younger, better-equipped generation following in their wake. 

Many young people in the UK feel that their current skills and career paths don’t position them to reach key life milestones

Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera which provides access to online courses from top universities around the world, comments: “Our findings are at once troubling and promising. Many young people in the UK feel that their current skills and career paths don’t position them to reach key life milestones. Our study found, however, that they are keen to upskill, with an overwhelming majority of respondents (96%) stating that they would consider taking a course to broaden their skillset if they felt it would advance their career. They are eager to take steps to improve their circumstances, if the correct tools – such as career-relevant skills training – are placed within their reach.”

Even though there is a clear willingness to learn new skills, over half of respondents (52%) stated that either the cost or the time commitment was preventing them from doing so. Only 14% of these young professionals strongly agreed that they are satisfied with the training and learning opportunities offered by their employer, meaning for many, months or years can go by with no appreciable skills growth.

Levin continues: “Coursera’s vision is to help people transform their lives through access to the world’s best education. Upskilling is now a much more convenient option than it has been in the past. New technology enables us to learn more affordably and on the go, where and when it suits. We hope this research will inspire businesses and education providers to better equip today’s young professionals to achieve their life and career goals.”


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