Young Wales Project debates future trends with Future Generations Commissioner
As 2017 gets under way, it was great to start the new year by meeting with members of the Young Wales Project, a group set up to empower and give a voice to youth groups across Wales.
It may have been a cold and dark January evening but the room was full of lively debate, with youth representatives from Newport Mind and youth forums in Caerphilly, RCT, Bridgend, Cardiff and Pembrokeshire, all expertly chaired by Joshua Chohan from the Young Wales Board.
In light of recent events here and abroad and a growing recognition that young people are anxious about recent political events and future prospects – especially the triggering of Article 50 this spring – a conversation around the well-being of future generations here in Wales was long overdue.
But whilst many events in the last year may have cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of young people here in Wales, the positivity and energy of the evening’s debate was a welcome start to the year. I have been frustrated by the recent media depictions of young people as the hypersensitive and self-absorbed ‘generation snowflake’.
But this discussion confirmed, as is often the case, that the media really have got it wrong. The young people I met were passionate, well-informed, clear about what needed to be improved and keen to help to do that.
Our discussions were wide-ranging and included the continued gender divide in school subjects such as ICT and engineering, the need for education in Wales to develop skills for the future, particularly in digital, as well as the need for education and training programmes to focus on the skills which will make them work-ready.
The chance for young people to influence decisions was a golden thread that ran throughout the evening. And they are absolutely right about this. It is no longer good enough for young people to be dismissed as the ‘leaders and citizens of tomorrow’, they must be recognised as agents of change today.
We are more than used to relying upon young people when it comes to help with the iPad, but imagine how much we could learn if we asked young people to help us develop policy on the economy and environment that we want for the future.
It is crucial that we are involving future generations in that conversation about their own futures, working with them today to help shape a better tomorrow.