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YSI Gen Z Index Shows Young People Want to Make a Difference to Their Community or World

Key research findings include:

It is the third wave of findings to emerge from a partnership between Ireland's largest social awareness and active citizenship and education programme, Young Social Innovators, and market research and data specialists, Amárach Research. The research measures annually the sentiment of Generation Z young people aged 16 to 21 years.

A Desire to Make a Difference
According to the YSI / Amárach ‘Gen Z Index,’ 27% of young people would like to work in the public sector, while 26% expressed a desire to run their own business. When asked what the greatest sign of a successful life would be, 39% said making a difference in their community or world.

YSI has observed an increasing level of civic participation, political awareness and social obligation among Ireland’s young people across a range of pressing issues. It is exciting and inspiring to watch young people come to view themselves as influencers and change-makers, and feel empowered and enabled in their capabilities. It is satisfying to see this borne out by the current wave of research, which demonstrates the extent to which Generation Z want to lead lives which effect positive change in the world around them.

Rachel Collier, YSI CEO

Trades and apprenticeships

The research also highlights the extent to which males (14%) are more likely to enter a trade or apprenticeship, compared to females (1%). 

Sadly, the finding around trades and apprenticeships is unsurprising, and represents a microcosm of the national situation. In the course of its work in this particular area, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation recently discussed, that of 15,500 apprentices in Ireland, a mere 2% were held by women. Plainly, more needs to be done to encourage and enable our young women and girls to pursue apprenticeships and trades, and to overturn the stubbornly resilient stereotype that women are somehow not suited to such roles.

Rachel Collier, YSI CEO

Brain Drain

Despite young people’s aspirations and ambitions to make a difference, it remains to be seen if such efforts will take place at home, with 57% of those surveyed saying they think they will work or live outside of Ireland in the future.

Gen Z are coming of age in an era where the world is more interconnected and easily accessible than ever. While time spent abroad can be beneficial to an individual’s professional and personal development, as well as to their outlook and worldview, this particular finding should be cause for some caution among employers and policy-makers. It is not unreasonable to suggest that it pre-empts a brain drain in the labour force, a phenomenon this country is already seeing play out in some sectors, such as teaching, or medicine. Moreover, this research was carried out at a time of relative economic prosperity. Should the country face into another downturn, then young people may feel more compelled to leave Ireland. Finally, should this expression by young people be realised, it should serve as a reminder to future governments of the need for incentives to draw our young people home, encouraging them to return with the unique skills, learning and insights they have gained along the way.

Sarah Rooney, Amárach Research Associate Director