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What does it mean to be young today? And why should we care?

The decision to allow 16 year olds to vote in the recent Scottish referendum has kick-started a debate in the UK as to whether this should become a standard practice. Does the proposal to expand suffrage recognise the changing role of youth in our society and the government’s desire to understand it?

If building close relations with children is an investment into the future of a family, then engaging with young people is a contribution to the sustainability of a society. For business, it is more than just ensuring employee satisfaction, a seamless flow and retention of talent. It is about keeping your finger on the pulse of the emerging social trends and understanding how your business needs to adapt today to meet them tomorrow and thereby remain sustainable.

In our old ‘linear’ world, event 20 years ago when I was a kid, life would be perceived as a progression from one distinct stage to another (e.g. childhood, youth, adulthood, old age), with each of the stages characterised by different attributes and activities.

Overall, in that world, youth would be seen as a period of life when one studied, acquired skills, made decisions about one’s future life-long career, met ‘the one and only’ and started a family, i.e. laid foundation for a future ‘Big Life’.

However, in today’s hyper-connected world of lose borders across social and demographic groups this description is no longer valid for a certain age category.

Modern technologies allow life-long development and access to education at any point in our lives. Medical progress improves quality of our lives, we remain physically healthier longer, we live longer, and child birth is no longer rushed. We rarely make definitive choices about our professional path and employers. Besides, authenticity and young spirit are much encouraged now across all age groups as a believed answer to the creativity crisis that the Western society is facing.

So what defines youth today? If, throughout our lives, we potentially can do all the things that used to be confined to our youth, what does it mean to be young today? Do young people have a distinct social role? And why do other members of society have to engage in a conversation with today’s youth to understand it?

We will be discussing the questions raised above with participants from global businesses and individuals with an interest in the topic on the 11th of December from 6:00 to 8:30 at St. Ethelburga’s centre (78 Bishopsgate, London). Please contact me at if you are interested to contribute to the discussion.

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