Theme 1 Project 2: The Crisis for Contemporary Youth: Young People, Opportunities and Civic Values.

Project Leader: 
Andy Green and Avril Keating
Other Project Team members: 
Germ Janmaat, Pauline Leonard, Bryony Hoskins, Michela Franceschelli, and Rachel Wilde

Project Details

The aim of this project is to explore the transformation of opportunities for young people in the UK and the implications this has for civic values as they make the transition to adulthood. The transition from youth to adulthood typically involves key milestones such as: completing education; moving out of the family home; entering the job market; and starting a family. In the past, these milestones often occurred when young people were in their early to mid-twenties. However recent research suggests that these milestones are being postponed, or perhaps even missed altogether.

Analysing the emerging patterns and their implications is particularly important in the current context. Various indicators suggest that young people have been amongst the hardest hit by the current economic crisis, and that opportunities for young people, relative to those of their parent’s generation, appear worse than they have been for many decades. For example, youth unemployment is at a record high, and at the end of 2012 around 21 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds in the UK were out of work, compared with a national average of 7.7 per cent. However, the challenges that young people experience may not be temporary or crisis driven; they may also be part of longer-term changes in social and economic structures. The high cost of housing, for example, predates the current economic crisis, and the proportion of young people living with their parents has been increasing since 1997.

Within the different elements of transitions that shape young people’s experiences, the project will focus on changes in two main areas: opportunities and civic values. More specifically, the project has two key aims:

  • To explore the employment, educational and housing opportunities of young people making the transition to adulthood,
  • To understand whether, and eventually how, changes in these opportunities may affect young people’s civic engagement and civic values

This is a mixed-method project that will draw on existing data (such as the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the , as well as generating new qualitative and quantitative data.

The quantitative data collection will involve running a further wave of the CELS survey of civic learning, behaviours, and attitudes among young people in England. This data will be used to trace the evolution opportunities and values among young people who were reaching adulthood at the time of the onset of the financial crisis in 2007 and who have been trying to engage with the labour market in the subsequent period of rapidly changing opportunities for young people. To find out more about CELS, see below.

The qualitative strand of the project will conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews with young people across the UK, to find out how the current climate is affecting their values, opportunities, and aspirations, and to explore how these experiences and attitudes vary across regions and between different social sub-groups.

Young people have been amongst the hardest hit by the current economic crisis.

Research Findings

Project Results and Outputs: 

Journal articles

Hoskins, B., Leonard, P., & Wilde, R. J . (2018). British Educational Research Journal. 44, 1 Pages 61-79 [Open Access]

Green, A. Pensiero, N. Franceschelli, M. and Henseke, G. (2017) ‘Education and the Changing Structure of Opportunities for Young People in England,’  Journal of Asian Education Review, 1(1), 7-30.

Keating, A. and Janmaat, J.G. (2015) 'Education through Citizenship at School: Do School Activities have a Lasting Impact on Youth Political Enagement?', Parliamentary Affairs.

Keating, A. (2015) 'Are Cosmopolitan Dispositions Learned at Home, at School, or through Contact with Others? Evidence from Young People in Europe', Journal of Youth Studies.

Book Chapters

Green, A. and Pensiero, N. (2016) ‘Comparative Perspectives: Education and Training System Effects on Youth Transitions and Opportunities’ in Schoon, I. and Bynner, J, (eds), Young People and the Great Recession: Preparing for an Uncertain Future, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


Andy Green (2017) The Crisis for Young People: Generational Inequalities in Education, Work, Housing and Welfare, Palgrave Pivot. 

Other publications

Green, A. (2017) , IOE/LLAKES Blog, February 2017.  

Keating, A., Green, A. and Janmaat, J.G. (2015) ">Young Adults and Politics Today: disengaged and disaffected or engaged and enraged? The latest findings from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS LLAKES Research Brief. UCL Institute of Education.


Green, A. Keynote on ‘Opportunities in Education and Work for Young People in the UK: Comparing Today’s Youth with their Parents’ Generation’ at International Conference in Contemporary Social Sciences, Rethymno, Crete, 10-12 June 2016.

Green, A. Invited lecture on ‘The Crisis of Youth’ at Daiwa Foundation conference on ‘The Shifting Values in Higher Education,’ London. 28.3.2013.

Green, A. Invited presentation on ‘Higher Education and the Crisis for Youth.’ Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong conference at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 23.3.2013.

Green, A. Keynote presentation (with Professor Mok Ka- Ho) on ‘ Expansion of Higher Education, Changing Labour Market Needs and Social Mobility: A Dialogue between Europe and East Asia.’ Hong Kong Education Research Association annual conference, Hong Kong Institute of Education. 22.2.2013.

Keating, A. ‘Taking citizenship online? Social media, civic engagement and young people in Great Britain’. Conference paper presented at APSA Annual Conference, Washington D.C, September 2014

Keating, A. and Franceschelli, M. (2014) ‘The crisis for contemporary youth: opportunities and attitudes among early school leavers in England’. Presentation at 'Early school leaving: causes, impact, remedies and policy responses'; seminar organised by LLAKES in conjunction with Centre for the Development of Education Policy, Greek General Confederation of Labour (KANEP/GSEE), 26 & 27 June 2014.

User Engagement and Impact

The findings from Project 1.2 will be of interest and value to policymakers and NGOs that are interested in young people’s civic engagement and opportunities in education, employment and housing. NGOs such as the Citizenship Foundation are already using some of the original data we have collected to highlight the opportunities and challenges young people experience when trying to engage in civic and political activities. With the Young Advisors charity, we have been getting young people involved in the research process. To this end, YA youth workers conducted interviews in their communities, giving us a 'youth' perspective on our topic guide, and contributing to our analyses. We hope that this process will also help the Young Advisors charity to build capacity in working with academic institutions.

A launch of the full results from the CELS survey was organised in the Houses of Parliament in 2015 and we have produced a policy briefing on the findings. LLAKES has organised two international conferences on research on young people and the crisis in 2015 and 2016 and intergenerational equity will be a major theme of LLAKES’ major international conference in May 2018. We have also shared our work with the think tanks such as the Ingergenerational Foundation and the Resolution Foundation who we hope will also be represented at this conference. The findings from the research have also been disseminated through LLAKES blogs on housing (Andy Green) and young people and voting (Germ Janmaat) and through Germ Janmaat’s piece in The Conversation on young people, education and tolerance.

Andy Green’s book on The Crisis for Young People: Generational Inequalities in Education, Work, Housing and Welfare will be published in the Spring of 2017, and he will be presenting the book’s proposed policies for intergenerational equity in a keynote at a conference organized by the Institute of Social Sciences & Humanities (IAKE) in Heraklion in May.

As the full results from our research appear we would expect to have important findings with relevance to DFE and the Home Office and will seek engagement policy-makers in relevant sections of these departments.



Theme One: Youth, Inter-generational Mobility and Civic Values