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The Fourteen19® 2019 Youth Forecast Report.

by Graham Sykes,

Posted on the 18/12/2018

Over 2018 we have canvassed the views of thousands of young people from all over the country. We did this in numerous ways including online questionnaires and face to face focus groups. We also involved young people in the development of our campaigns and facilitated projects that allowed them to shape products & services to their needs.

From all this activity, we have built a unique understanding of the world that young people live in and how it needs to change in order to allow them to thrive and maximise their potential.

Our message for youth engagement professionals and organisations next year is to #BeMore19.  In order to help you do this we'll be providing lots of useful tools and tips. Here is our first contribution: A prediction of 10 youth trends in 2019.

We can’t guarantee that they will all happen in 2019 – but they certainly represent the direction of travel.

1) Youth Mental Health Support: Young people are leading the way with being open about discussing their mental health. They might not chat with parents or publish it on social media, but they are discussing it with friends. But what happens when you have discussed it – what happens next? The ‘talking’ message is great to start the process but what about stage two – getting actual help and support?

The UK’s youth mental health strategy can’t rely on 17 year olds to diagnose and prescribe/signpost appropriate support. ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ might be the start (and expect this to increase) – but this is one of the big questions that young people are asking – what do I do when someone has opened up? The youth mental health timebomb is ticking and we need to plan how to stop it going off. 

2) Up in Smoke: Smoking and vaping will continue to rise in young adults. Smoking has always been the traditional way to rebel, and young people in perpetuality have believed they will live forever. Vaping provided a ‘healthier’ way of smoking – but for many it has provided an entry level smoking experience. Will action be taken on vaping products? Will Government start to address this health issue?

3) Social Media trends:

  • Facebook will continue to fall and for the first time is about to start falling exponentially as young users fail to see its value and simply don’t bother signing up for an account.
  • TikTok will come from nowhere – purchasing the former site for 1$bn has young users already signed up and ready to become teens.
  • Twitter will continue to be seen as "another old person" platform and Instagram will reign supreme as the social network as choice. Expect Snapchat and Messaging sites to hold their position.

4) Errr... young people will get older - The traditional 16-25 youth sector will become 16-30 as funding programmes and marketers are forced to extend age ranges. This is due to more and more 25-30 year olds delaying making the traditional advances to adulthood (house purchases etc) due to income and a continued lack of employment opportunities yet still requiring support.

5) Education:

  • University entrance numbers will fall as large numbers are continuing to be priced out of accessing higher education and increasing numbers fail to see the benefits against the major levels of debt
  • The number of A’ Levels taken will also fall as students seek a more blended portfolio of qualifications (BTECs, ‘T’ levels in 2020) that gives them access to a variety of career pathways on leaving college

6) Employment - Youth unemployment will continue to rise as employers still fail to embrace Apprenticeships at 16 & 18  when they can employ graduates and ‘older’ workers on low incomes and zero-hours contracts. Also not forgoting the lack of vacancies due to 'intern' opportunities that only exist to people who can afford to work without pay *cough* rich people *cough*.

7) Work experience will return – Changes to the Ofsted Framework will force schools and colleges to overhaul the concept of work experience. Work experience is not about sampling a dream job - it should be seen as ‘a process’ that needs to be experienced. This means that it should be about young people learning how to: find a job, make contact with an employer, arrange a couple of days work in the company, turning up on time, looking presentable and doing the job asked to the best of their ability. These are the real work experience skills that young people need and its up to us all to sell the benefits of this and offer the opportunities. 

8) A new category of ‘youth leader’ will rise - As organisations move away from ‘tick box’ engagement – they will see the benefit in empowering individuals, promoting them as a face of their organisation and allowing them to have their own voice. These individuals will drive youth policy, provide unique insight and inspire other young people to become involved. With young people becoming increasingly disillusioned with democracy it is their peers that will convince them to become politically engaged.  

9) Could 2019 see the next summer of love? Twenty years ago - austerity, a lack of opportunities and a non-youth culture friendly government resulted in all night raves, sound-systems, and warehouse parties. 2019 might be more hugs and less drugs – but it would will still send the establishment into melt down. Plus, how much easier will it be to find the party in a world with social media when you don't have to rely on pay-phone answerphone messages!

10) Organisations will get better at engaging with young people - Young people don’t like advertising and many have learnt the skills to ignore it. Direct communication will continue to be the most effective method and the role of influencers will become increasingly important. Whilst the mega-brands have Instagram celebrities offering global reach, but for those with more modest budgets multiple channels exist to reach young people. This will be driven by identifying the key individuals (teachers, peers, parents, ‘celebrities’) that inspire, entertain or influence their specific target groups. From here, the correct channels can be identified, and relevant content created that will encourage young people to engage with a brand, product or service.


This blog was written by Graham Sykes, Head of Agency at Fourteen19®. Graham has over 22 years experience in Youth Engagement. 

You can follow him on Twitter at or connect on LinkedIn on





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