Young Canadians are optimistic about the future. They’re focused on financial stability, working hard and helping others – but are concerned about the plight of Indigenous Canadians, the impact of technology and levels of stress, according to a new study.
The first-of-its-kind survey commissioned by the Horatio Alger Association of Canada polled more than 2,000 Canadians aged 14-23. The results challenge much of the conventional wisdom about young Canadians and sheds lights on the world view of “Generation Z” – the group of people born in the mid- to late-1990s, after the so-called “Millennials”.
“We can feel confident about the future of Canada when we listen to the Voices of our Youth – Generation Z. The findings are clear: young Canadians are resilient, optimistic, and value hard work. They care about big issues like Indigenous reconciliation, affordable housing and poverty,” says the Right Honourable David Johnston, Canada’s 28th Governor General and Member of the Horatio Alger Association of Canada who moderated a panel discussion about the report’s findings with a group of Horatio Alger scholarship recipients.
“But while there is good news, we can’t be complacent,” says Johnston. “Young people feel real pressures – such as financing education and finding a good job – and have real worries, such as the impact of technology on their lives and being bullied.”
Voices of Our Youth Report Highlights
What makes for a successful life
The report found that for today’s youth, hard work is more important than luck in achieving a successful life (79%). Financial stability (84% of high school students and 88% of high school graduates) and helping others (85% of high school students and 86% of graduates) are the two most important factors for achieving a successful life.
Optimism for the future
74% of high school students and 71% of graduates are “hopeful” or “somewhat hopeful” for the future.
Indigenous issues matter to young people in this country. The report indicates that 61% of high school students and 63% of graduates feel that all Canadians are responsible for the Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to make change in Canadian society. Regarding the quality of life on reserves, 32% of high school students and 35% of graduates feel the government is doing a “poor” or “very poor” job.
Impacts of technology
The findings in the report indicate that technology has both positive and negative impacts on young people. Although technology acts as a research tool for students, it can also be a distraction. 76% of high school students and 79% of graduates feel that technology has a “very positive” to “somewhat positive” effect on their technology skills, while 74% of high school students and 76% of graduates feel that technology has helped their ability to research and find information. 27% of high school students and 32% of graduates feel that technology has a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” impact on their life skills.
Facing challenges and managing stress
The report indicates that the main pressure for high school students is to do well in school (66%), while graduates feel that their top pressure is to have their lives figured out (77%). The report demonstrates that financial independence is a key concern for young people today, with 59% of graduates and 31% of high school students working. The graduates reported working either full-time (50%) or part-time (50%), whereas high school students are working mostly part-time (84%).
Pressure to do drugs
The report indicates that the least amount of pressure experienced by youth includes the pressure to do drugs. 70% of high school students and 75% of graduates reported that they did not feel compelled to use drugs.
The report found that 17% of high school students feel that schools are doing “a very good job” of preparing them with the skills needed in life, while more than 36% feel that their schools are doing “somewhat a good job”, 29% feel that their schools are doing an “average job”, 12% think that their school are doing “somewhat a poor job”, and 4% feel that their schools are doing “a very poor job”. A staggering 45% therefore are not entirely satisfied with how their school is preparing them for life.
For the full Voices of Our Youth report, visit www.horatioalger.ca/voy.