/ Money, Parenting

How easy is it to be a young person these days?

Student thinking about money

Many young people are struggling to find employment and for those who have jobs, they face falling wages, rising prices and a struggle to get on to the property ladder. How easy is it to be a young person these days?

We’ve been looking in to how economic and social trends are affecting young people and how we can be better equipped to help them deal with life and all the complicated decisions it throws up.

It’s a fact that people aged between 18 and 29 years old are significantly less well-off compared to previous generations. It takes them several years longer to reach average income levels than when their elders were in this age bracket.

Because of the economic pressure they face, it’s more important than ever that young people know their consumer rights. Our surveys suggest that in the last year, young consumers failed to return goods to the value of around £500m because they didn’t exercise their consumer rights. Our analysis also suggests that this problem is generational.

Problem purchase – turning to parents

Just one in five young consumers would know where to go for information if they had a problem with a purchase, compared to nearly half of the general population. It’s probably no surprise that around half of 18-24 year olds are reliant on their parents to assert their consumer rights but the fact that around a third of 24-29 year olds are still relying on them should cause some concern.

Consumer skills are traditionally developed through experience as we get older. However, for today’s young consumers, ‘milestone’ events like marriage and buying a home are deferred until much later in life. There is less ‘learning by doing’ upfront.

Young consumers are spending longer relying on their parents for finance and for help in negotiating consumer markets. Four in ten parents say they are surprised by the extent to which their adult children still need their financial support and a third are worried their children make bad decisions about money.

If we don’t adapt to these trends then we’re storing up problems for the future. Which? represents all consumers, so we also need to find ways to help younger people with the difficult decisions they face. It’s those key life decisions, like like choosing where to study and buying your first house, where young consumers need the most help and we’re doing our bit to develop products and services that put young consumers’ needs first.

This was first published in full on The Huffington Post.


Being in my early Sixties I remember how easy it was to get a Job decent pay with a poor education.
The UK was an Employing Manufacturing Nation to-day the UK is an overpopulated small island with
a very small Manufacturing base that has been replaced by Warehouses;Call Centers&big supermarkets all employing significantly less so its much harder for young people.It use to be start at the bottom&maybe work you’re way up the ladder.No longer does this happen.I have met people stacking shelves in supermarkets who have been university and they said Quote (I was told work hard go to Uni get a Degree and you will get a good Job here i am sacking shelves no prospects) FACT.Most recently the American Dream has also collapsed climbing the Ladder.

As a mid 60s person myself I get a bit peeved when younger people winge that life for them is tough and we had it easy. Ok I had a job to go to when I left school but they were not well paid and there was no such thing as benefits or jobseekers allowance. I had to save for years to buy a cheap car and when I got married I had to rent a house until we had saved a deposit on a small house. In those days you needed a big deposit and later on the interest rates were over 12%. It took until we had two wages coming in before we could pay for a mortgage. Now when I interview young people for a job in my firm half of them can’t dress sensibly, speak in English properly or add up. The only thing they can do is text on their mobiles. They expect a top wage with no experience just because they have a degree which to be honest most are not really worth the paper they’re printed on. Life is tough but it always has been, the only difference now is young people expect it handed to them on a plate.

Norm yes it was tough to get your 1st home to buy we had a 100%mortgage I worked in the Car Industry which was always Boom or Bust.My ex.a part time Job as 1 child no close parents4free childcare with my Night-shift Premium we lived. On day-shift hardy enough to pay all the bills.You need to wise up on requirements for someone to get a home these days.We have people who have homes but no family life doing 3or4 part time Jobs Just to keep a roof over their heads.Many young do not have spare cash for Suits etc to attend interviews.We did not have mass immigrants like they have now speech has changed through so called integration from English in 70ies/80ies.The difference for our young is massive because Labor allowed to many immigrants into the UK.

I think most young people have a better material life than years ago. They seem to find money for cars, holidays, gadgets, entertainment that was harder to come by when I was younger – and working. Saving for an old car was a struggle, as was trying to get a house – remember the mid-70’s with rationed mortgages and high interest rates? New furniture and carpets – out of the question for a few years. Maybe my priorities were different then.

As a country, our second biggest mistake was winning the war (2nd) – we were bankrupted and industry was decimated. Instead of rebuilding our own industry we got the losers back on their feet. (Our first biggest mistake was getting involved in the first place).

We didn’t then invest and modernise much of our industry, and we had resistance to change and bickering that prevented us from being competitive – so manufacturing largely withered away.We gave away good ideas – like the jet engine – to our “friends”. So we laid the basis Sof modern Britain – supported by financial “industry” and services. Too one-sided.

The sooner we get more young people doing science, engineering, manufacturing technology, maths and allied topics – instead of hobby degrees – whether through university, college or apprenticeships, the better will be our longer-term future. So stop whinging and get on with it.

Hrw says:
19 March 2014

As a person in my mid-twenties I fall in the age bracket mentioned above. And, while trying not to sound like I’m ‘whinging’ and keep this as factual as possible, I do think there are added pressures on young people these days and that we perhaps don’t see the return on it that generations previous to ours have seen.

I have a good degree and I went to a good university. I was the first year of students to be charged extortionate amounts for the pleasure. My student debt is well above the £20,000 mark – and I am paying interest on this. I can’t even imagine what sort of debt students are now coming out of university with. I graduated in 2009, and yes I did feel entitled to a job. This sense of entitlement soon crashed to the ground. After two 3-month long unpaid internships, which took up the last of my savings, I finally managed to secure a paying job. Nearly five years after this my salary has increased by around £4,000 per annum, better than nothing but not a huge amount. I am paying a percentage of my salary each month into paying off my student loan – which doesn’t even cover the interest I have paid on it so far. I pay a ridiculous amount to rent a flat with my boyfriend, as living at home with the parents wasn’t really for us. We both have jobs for reputable companies, and put money into savings accounts, ISAs each month – but are gaining little to no interest for our scrimping and saving. We would love to buy a house by our early thirties, but this looks increasingly unlikely. These are really not issues that I spend time dwelling on, and I don’t feel particularly hard done by. I have worked for some really good companies and I’m pretty happy. I know I could be a lot worse off; these are just the facts as they stand.

As mentioned in the article above young people aged 18-29 are significantly less well off than previous generations. I am obviously not saying that this is every young person’s experience, but my parents certainly feel that we have it harder than they did. By my age they were both on fairly large salaries, had nearly paid back their small student loans, were paying minimal rent, getting high interest on their savings, and well on their way to buying their first house.

I agree that there is too much focus on university – it’s not for everyone, and the other options should be offered to young people throughout their education as well as by external sources. This may make a change in the future, but it doesn’t stop the fact that right now many young people do feel like they are struggling. Most of us worked hard to either gain a degree or another qualification, and are working hard to get good careers. Maybe we don’t have it as tough as some previous generations, but it certainly isn’t getting any easier.

“yes I did feel entitled to a job”. I don’t see that anyone is – you need to offer the skills and aptitude that an employer wants. If you have those you will get a job. If your qualifications are not good enough or in demand then no one should be forced to employ you.

I sympathise with people payng off loans. I wonder whether we should not give incentives to people who take courses in certain disciplines – I’d suggest including science, engineering, maths and manufacturing – and who gain good degrees to be relieved of part of their loan. This might encourage some to both take these courses, and to study diligently – giving skills we need for the country to grow economically, and to teach future generations.

Hrw says:
19 March 2014

It was never really explained to me that after university I may have to work unpaid in order to build up the experience on my CV, and that even to get a worthwhile unpaid internship there would be masses of competition. Of my 7 housemates from university, 5 of us worked unpaid for at least 3 months after leaving university. As a 17 year old embarking on your A levels this should be explained to you, otherwise how would you know to expect this? Being only 21 and having worked hard at my degree, I wasn’t prepared to expect anything else. Both this and the actual cost of paying back a loan should be explained to young people when they are choosing which path to take.

Incentives for certain qualifications in certain disciplines are a good idea. I also think just simply more information on alternative routes would be helpful. My boyfriend is a mechanic, but wasted time doing A levels for two years because it was expected of him and he wasn’t aware of his options, before actually going on to do vocational qualifications. He was two years older than most of his classmates at the time, and isn’t as far on in his career as he would like to be by his age.

No one is ‘entitled to a job’. In another conversation I pointed out that a degree, if in an appropriate subject and from a reputable University, will facilitate getting an invitation to an interview. It is likely that there will be more applicants than posts, and all of them will have similar qualifications. Personal characteristics will tip the balance when it comes to getting the appointment, not paper qualifications. I have in the past turned down a applicant with a 1st class degree in favour of one with a 2.1 because the former demonstrated qualities of initiative and self-motivation lower than that possessed by a piece of over-ripe cheese!

Marie says:
21 March 2014

I so agree with you that there is no career advice to young people at school these days. I’m in my mid 50’s with 2 children; one is 25 with a BA and MA, working in a job she does not need a degree for, but very pleased to be employed having been out of work for 6 months on leaving university.She earns a little more than minimum wage and has no chance of being a home-owner for years. My 2nd child is currently a uni student, graduating in 2015.She works part time to help support herself through uni as well as parental support. The advice was…you’re bright, you need a degree to get anywhere. I want to believe an education is not wasted, but I fear for this generation with the debt they will have and the poor employment opportunities thereafter.
I was raging yesterday after the budget. What planet are these politicians on if they think they will change anything substantially for these young people.
Life is much tougher for younger people today. Many possess drive, motivation, enthusiasm, dedication and energy but these qualities seem to still not be enough.

Now 61 but back in the early 70’s one September morning I was one of 120 fresh faced youngsters on the first day of a 5 year engineering apprenticeship. A local aerospace company had three local sites and took in a similar number every year. An almost guaranteed job on completion and thus given a good start.
Look what happens nowadays, youngsters who’s parents can afford it send their kids off to university studying some obscure subject and if they’re lucky most end up working for a supermarket or a call center. Very few end up doing what they wanted to do or even in the subject they studied.
As a nation we’ve changed from a base of manufacturing, where we actually produce something and where jobs were relatively plentiful to a service based economy which is basically everyone doing everyone else’s washing and for not much money. I think successive Governments should be very ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.

No fun at all being a young worker today. A disappointing future following qualifications in useless subjects and even if not in a useless subject, in competition for what jobs there are with a growing influx of foreign workers diluting the workforce, pushing down pay levels, placing enormous pressure on services, increasing the housing shortage and thus making buying a home even more difficult
The good years have gone and I’m sad to say this generation will not do as well as the one before.

Time for a drastic rethink I’d say, in could be turned around, but unfortunately current Government is such that I don’t think it will happen any time soon, we’re too deep in the hole this and previous Governments have dug and an innocent generation (at least one generation) will be lost.

I left school at 15 yrs of age and took up a career at sea in the MN. During those days of 55 yrs ago a young person could have walked out of one job at lunchtime and into another the same afternoon. Why has this collapsed particularly when Government tell us education has much much more spent on it than previously? Perhaps it may be something to do with exactly where money is being spent, is it spent wisely ensuring young folk are literate and numerate? I doubt it, the roots of ‘modern’ education lie in the 1960’s when any liberal fool with a half baked idea could stand on his / her soapbox and expound the latest ‘in’ theory. Forty odd yrs of ‘modern’ methods haven’t yielded very much, have they? As for Government, what chance a radical re-think? None. When a Government has run it’s course where do they end up? In a bank or an oil company. Any wonder there have been no prosecutions? So long as this prevails there will be no useful change in the education system. Much needs to be done to get away from so called progressive thinking.
Who in their right mind thought teaching 7 yr old children the joys of homosexuality was a good idea. Has the Minister sought to establish if there was some other agenda afoot? Unlikely he/she are likely ‘learning’ lessons, isn’t that the byword today? Inaction and incompetence.

Joe says:
21 March 2014

I’m sure many today in their 60’s and older, like me, didnt have much money when younger either but then what was there to spend money on compared with today? The problem confronting today’s young (not their fault) is that they have a vast array of gadgets, clothes, entertainment to choose from compared to decades previously. With all this temptation its no wonder many feel its not easy to be young. As far as jobs and housing is concerned I put that down entirely to the failed policies and ideology of past/present governments and our industrialists and business leaders. Young people should get out and vote more often.

Many of to-days young are perhaps offspring of parents who have lost their Jobs through no fault of their own. Where multi-national manufacturers have relocated due to grants&subsidies by the EU to the likes of Slovenia and are unable to find work.We did have (Scooters Mods )Rockers Motorbikes )& fashion during our Teens Youth Clubs;Leisure Centres&pools many of the later have closed.All of our leaders are Public Schoolboy Brigade and they simply do not care.UKIP have some decent ideas but they are for Fracking I would not vote for any party supporting such a dangerous policy.Spitting Image sparked interest in Politics in our young years ago.Unfortunately The Human Rights Brigade have ended a lot of free speech.Its really quite simple our politicians/ Government’s have allowed far to many people to come and live in a small Island that makes almost nothing now.Young women are seduced by foreign criminals who take up with them so they can aviod deportation live in this country.We do have young people with Retail management degrees but unless they are extremly lucky they will never progress from the tills or shelf stacking because there is so many chasing that oppertunity.

I am a 2nd war child and started work in the late fifties. I fully agree with previous writers, I could get a job then at any time with virtually no qualifications mostly in the servicing or manufacturing industries.
My wife the same age has just commented she applied for five jobs and following interviews was offered all five!!!, working in shops, eventually with M and S a really good company.
After serving an apprentership in the motor industry I decided when we wanted to get married to improve my standing and joined the Police Force. This was the best occupation ever and since retirement has given me a satisfying life with a good pension.
None of your contributors have mentioned such an occupation or the services, ambulance or Fire Brigade, medical etc.
One has to look forward to old age as well……… a good pension is worth a fortune. Does no one save for old age nowadays….. I did and now benefit.