Rural youth market reserach
Hi! Thanks for your request for market research on rural youth in the UK as related to their feelings regarding the future, challenges, opportunities, work, and the community as a whole. In short, many rural youth in the UK do not feel adequately prepared to pursue employment. Limited vacancies, low pay, and nepotistic hiring practices are reported by UK rural youth as challenges in finding suitable employment. Furthermore, farming, which has long been considered a key rural economy in the UK, is experiencing a decline in the number of youth willing to enter the profession. Below, you will find a deep dive of my findings.
According to Culliney, Britain's rural areas are heavily populated by those in the older age profile, who are drawn in by the peace and quiet, the stronger sense of community, and lower crime rates. This is indicative that the youth of the UK prefer to be in urban areas, as they perceive there to be more opportunities available there. Across the UK, unemployment rates are currently 3 times higher in the 16-25 year old range than for other ages. Furthermore, 72% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 report earning less than minimum wage. These figures are likely compounded among youth residing in rural areas throughout the UK.
UK RURAL YOUTH AND THEIR FUTURE
A recent research study focused on the progression of rural youth in Suffolk (England) with regards to higher education and employment. It can be assumed that these opinions are shared throughout rural communities across the UK. Lack of accessibility and transportation options to educational and employment opportunities were reported to be a huge disadvantage of living in a rural area. In rural areas where limited transportation options are available, the high cost remains a deterrent.
Many youth also reported feeling that rural schools were too focused on academics, not placing enough focus on career needs. One interviewee noted that he felt that since he was not planning to attend college, his school did not concentrate on ensuring he had adequate skills. Many feel schools do not provide adequate preparation and support for youth who are interested in pursuing employment, as opposed to higher education.
UK RURAL YOUTH AND WORK
In general, unemployment rates among rural UK young people tend to be lower than that of urban youth, indicating the rural youth population has a strong work ethic. However, Culliney notes a majority of rural youth in the UK seek to escape the rural setting due to various factors related to employment. Many young people choosing to remain in rural areas tend to seek employment on a regional or national scale. One factor deterring UK youth from seeking employment in rural environments is the low pay. While youth in urban areas may start out at a lower wage, they have greater potential for moving into a higher paying job more quickly than those in rural areas. Rural UK youth feel they do not have the opportunity to earn a decent living in their current setting.
Many UK youth are unable or unwilling to relocate or commute to urban areas for employment. For those who elect to reside and seek employment in rural areas, there are many challenges. For example, there are limited choices available with regards to employment opportunities. A majority of rural jobs are part-time, low-skilled, or of poor quality. With regards to more stable rural jobs, many youth have insufficient credentials or experience to qualify them for the very narrow range of vacancies that exist. Furthermore, the small businesses found in rural settings often utilize nepotistic hiring practices, making it very challenging for young people to find work in rural UK. Culliney states that many UK youth who work in rural settings report feeling, "stuck in low-paid jobs without transferable skills and no prospects of escape to other labour markets."
FARMING AND AGRICULTURE
The UK has maintained a strong emphasis on farming and agriculture as the key rural economy throughout the years. According to a survey conducted by NatWest, young farmers are necessary to keep the industry alive, as they bring fresh ideas and ambition to farming in the UK. Despite this, the number of young farmers in the UK continues to fall. NatWest reports 64% of youth are deterred from entering the agricultural industry due to non-competitive salaries, followed by limited job openings (55%), lack of a family farm (55%), required investment (45%), and lack of access to available land available for rent (36%).
Lack of available external funding was noted by 40% of survey respondents to be a barrier for young farmers in the UK. Thirty percent reported not knowing where to find appropriate funding, while 23% reported having inadequate security for a loan. Additionally, 19% of respondents stated they did not have the ability to service a loan, 18% reported having a deficient business plan, and 13% reported an inability convincing funding sources of the viability of their business opportunity or idea related to farming.
A final deterrent for young people to enter the agricultural industry in the UK is the unknown impact of Brexit, which presents a unique set of challenges. For example, the UK will have to begin trading under WTO rules and will be solely responsible for negotiating its own trade deals. The lack of EU subsidies and protection also causes fear for some. As noted by one survey respondent, "It’s a bit like trying to predict who’s going to win a horse race without knowing who is running. We can all have ideas but no one actually knows."
Despite the challenges young people face with regards to entering the farming and agricultural industry in the UK, many youth identified some unique opportunities in this area. Many young farmers report plans for diversification projects to help sustain their farming endeavors. Additionally, like most other regions, youth in the UK are technologically savvy. Many report having plans to implement technological improvements in order to improve efficiency and productivity, thus resulting in higher profits.
To wrap it up, many rural youth in the UK do not feel adequately prepared to pursue employment. Limited vacancies, low pay, and nepotistic hiring practices are reported by rural UK youth as challenges in finding suitable employment. Furthermore, farming, which has long been considered a key rural economy in the UK, is experiencing a decline in the number of youth willing to enter the profession.
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