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Lady Berridge: Don't lose Generation 2012

Screen shot 2012-07-18 at 17.29.04Baroness Berridge is the youngest female member of the House of Lords, a Trustee of British Future and a former Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

New British Future polling shows that this age group is far more optimistic than their parents might guess, with 67% broadly optimistic about their future, and 33% broadly pessimistic. Their ideas and drive, their enthusiasm and creativity will support our businesses, provide new talent for our third sector and spark our entrepreneurs.

For those reasons, we don’t want the young people of Generation 2012, those who are entering or have just left education in this Olympic year, to fall by the wayside, their talents wasted, or for our struggling economy not to benefit from an injection of this new talent.

They have been branded as “the lost generation” by some, but clearly Britain cannot afford to lose the talent and energy of thousands. From those who just finished an NCVQ to post graduates signing off a PhD, the country needs the vitality of this generation to be put to best use.

Some analysts fear that business and the wider British economy will suffer if that injection of new blood every year does not arrive. Others, from parents to academics to economists, worry about the impact on Generation 2012 themselves if they spend years failing to get jobs that make use of their qualifications, or any jobs at all.

Well-educated graduates talk of sending off hundreds of applications and hearing from no one, others worry about how the jobs their parents depended on have disappeared. 

While politicians and Westminster folk pose possible solutions to help the 18–24 year olds move on and move into employment, who speaks for Generation 2012 themselves? 

We need to do more speaking with them, rather than about them.

However, new YouGov polling of 18-24 year olds for British Future, taken just before the Olympics start, shows that this age group is far more optimistic than their parents might guess, with 67% broadly optimistic about their future, and 33% broadly pessimistic.

They are also less likely than others might think to blame the baby boom generation, which includes many of their parents, for having it easier or causing the problems the country is suffering. 

When asked if the government should take away winter fuel allowance and state pensions from the older generation paying higher rate tax and use that money to help others, 18–24s were less likely to agree (32%) than adults generally (43%).

The ‘lost generation’ tag doesn’t suit them, they are still a broadly hopeful generation making great plans for the future, so let’s not disappoint them. Rather than writing them off with a label that just suggests a dark horizon, let’s find out what the 18 to 24s think needs to be done to sort out their future, and so ensure a better future for Britain.

The new publication "Generation 2012: optimism despite obstacles" is launched at Stratford Town Hall on Thursday and is published online at


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