Fears about work rekindle young's spirit of rebellion

Today's youth see elders' world as failing them
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The Independent Online

Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Young people are increasingly worried about jobs and financial security and are developing a "new spirit of rebellion" against a world which they see as having largely failed them, says a survey published today.

Fewer want to be seen as sensible and responsible, more think of themselves as "wild and unpredictable", and they are placing a greater value on creativity, originality and a "streetwise attitude for surviving in the mid-1990s", the youth lifestyles survey, from the market research organisation Mintel, says.

Mintel says people in the 15-24 age bracket appear to have given up trying to emulate their elders because the "traditional ways" of leaving school and moving into a job are not working. "They are rejecting conventionality because the conventions are not there for them," said Angela Hughes, Mintel's research manager.

Miss Hughes said society was passing through enormous change, "most of which is unfavourable to young people". Despite improving educational qualifications, they are more likely to be without a job than adults - unemployment ranged from 11 per cent among women aged 20-24 to 21 per cent for men aged 16-19 - and their earnings are rising more slowly.

Young women, however, are coping much better with the changes than men, and there is evidence that many of the traditional gender-based character stereotypes are vanishing as women's confidence grows.

Young women are now more likely than men to see themselves as intelligent and thoughtful, for example. Conversely the proportion of young men who see themselves as outgoing and extrovert has decreased.

However, men are still more likely to view themselves as witty, entertaining, wild and streetwise. And fewer young men, but more young women, want to be described as romantic.

Mintel says these changes in attitude are rooted in girls' improving educational attainments and their suitability for jobs in the new service and technical industries. Boys have been hit by the decline in manual and semi-skilled employment.

Young people are more worried about the future, the survey says. Their biggest worry, cited by 56 per cent, rising to almost seven in 10 of those aged 15-19, is finding a job, followed by health and money. Four in 10 of those under 25 in work worry about losing their job.

One result of high youth unemployment is that many are staying at home. Eight out of 10 of 15-19 year-olds, and nearly four out of 10 of those aged 20-24, were living with their parents, often after finishing university.

tYouth Lifestyles; £895; Mintel, 18-19 Long Lane, EC1A 9HE.