Ambitious yoof

Type: Think Pieces Written by | Saturday 1 January 2000

In the 1970s, public administration was at one stage the most popular career choice. Not any more. Only 1% of under-21s list it as a career goal. Meanwhile 48% express a desire to own their own business, with as many girls as boys saying so.
 

'Class does not matter, according to the youngsters,' says a MORI report for the Adam Smith Institute. Only 9% include a privileged background in the factors which aid success. Only 19% think that good connections matter. However, 72% say determination is what counts, and 70% include education. 'The upshot is that the classless, meritocratic society has already arrived for the Millennial Generation.' 'Birth, breeding and background do not matter. It is who you are which counts, not where you came from or who you know.'

The picture of an upward-reaching group is reinforced by the fact that 43% list 'becoming a millionaire by the age of 35' as a career goal. 'Clearly the age group includes a high proportion of would-be entrepreneurs,' suggests the report. It also points out that 'the Millennial Generation appear to have moved closer to the kind of aspirations thought to typify their American counterparts, rather than towards an attitude more representative of the European approach.'

Their social, non-career aspirations are thoroughly down to earth. 59% list 'owning their own home' as something they aspire to. An equally traditional goal of 'having children' is included by 46%. When asked to list a single goal, the largest single group put down 'to be happily married with a family.' This is followed by 'successful career' and 'long and healthy life.'

As the report points out, 'A vision of their own future for the Millennial Generation might include less government, more economic risk-taking, greater self-reliance and ambition, but it also includes the very traditional personal wants for home, marriage, family, health and long life.'

There is hardly anything the Millennial generation would ban, except Ecstasy (60%) and fox-hunting with hounds (57%). Nothing else comes close to a majority in favour of banning. Not beef on the bone (8%), not tobacco advertising (14%), smoking in a public place (16%), explicit sex on TV or films (11%) or explicit violence (6%). Only 25% want cannabis outlawed, and only 35% go along with banning the ownership of a handgun in a gun club. As the report puts it, 'The Millennial Generation is a markedly tolerant one.'

The report concludes that 'the picture painted is of a generation which differs in many respects from its predecessors. They do not expect much from the political process, and accord little or no respect to its practitioners.' 'The Millennial Generation seem to be self-confident and self-dependent. They aim high and do not think themselves limited by background.' 'These qualities suggest that the future will feel the impact of the Millennial Generation quite soon, and that the new millennium might well be in safe hands.'