Every 15 to 20 years a new generation emerges. As the last of Generation Y moves into adulthood we are on the cusp of a new generation materialising. This report presents the first detailed look at the last cohort of Generation Y, young people between the ages of 14 and 17, to determine what we can learn about the next generation to come.

Headlines often focus on the difficult future that the next generation are facing; a future clouded by a competitive and fast-changing labour market, increasing housing and education costs, and new pressures from social media. Yet, instead of taking to the streets in anger, our research suggests that many young people are having a positive impact through social enterprise, social media and volunteering. Teachers, who know young people better than most, describe them as ‘caring’, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘hard-working’ and believe that teenagers today are more likely to volunteer for good causes and set up their own group, movement or socially motivated project than previous generations.

This report calls for a new narrative around today’s young people. Teenagers and teachers believe that too often policymakers and the media paint an unflattering portrait of teenagers. Four out of five young people feel that this impacts on their ability to get a job. Our research suggests that teenagers are motivated to make a difference in their community but the tools they use and the approach they take is different from those of previous generations. They value bottom-up social action and enterprise over top-down politics. The report calls on policy makers to recognise these new forms of activism and engagement and ensure that all young people in the UK have an opportunity to take part in high quality social action.