Young people turning away from higher education to fund basic needs, new research finds
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Those between the ages of 10 and 25 are turning away from higher education amid the continuing cost-of-living crisis, new research suggests. A new study, which was carried out by the Co-op and children’s charity Barnardo’s, indicated a shift in financially prioritising basic needs.
Over 5,000 10 to 25-year-olds across the UK took part in a survey which uncovered the “stark impact” the rising cost-of-living is having on young people’s access to food, mental wellbeing, and future opportunities. Financial issues were said to be causing young people to struggle to afford to feed themselves.
More than a third of respondents said their family have had issues paying for or accessing food, with the same number having used food support such as food banks over the past six months.
Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and shared value at Co-op said: “The cost-of-living has had a seismic impact on young people, with many having to prioritise basic needs over long-term career goals and aspirations.
“We’re seeing that many people are unable to make the financial compromises required to set themselves up for future success.
“Apprenticeships are a key means by which we can promote social mobility, and business can play an important role in ensuring everyone has an equal chance to fulfil their potential, no matter who they are or where they are from.
“Whilst we see first-hand the positive impact apprenticeships have on young careers at Co-op, it’s not fair that those from poorer backgrounds feel their options for further education are being limited due to the cost-of-living.
Lynn Perry, chief executive at Barnardo’s said: “A generation of young people have been disadvantaged as a result of the Covid pandemic, and the impact has been greatest for those growing up in poorer households.
“That’s why we’re working with the Co-op to support young people to access basic needs like food, manage their mental wellbeing, and connect with opportunities for their future.
“Covid widened the gap between what the most and least disadvantaged pupils in the UK achieve in school, and we must not let the cost-of-living crisis be a further barrier to young people pursuing their ambitions – whether that’s higher education or a work-based option.”