To emigrate or not to emigrate: that is the question: As thousands of young people across the UK await and receive their GCSE and A-level results and ponder what next, new research from our  Think Big programme reveals that 54 per cent of young people would consider leaving the UK and moving abroad to find employment.

According to the survey, young people are so anxious about securing employment in the current climate that a majority said they would readily trade down and accept a job which required less experience and skills than they have to offer.

Who’s to blame for this?

Young people pulled no punches in apportioning blame for their current plight, with more than 56% citing the failure of the education system to adequately prepare them for the world of work. When quizzed further on this issue, 49% said careers advice and guidance services were simply inadequate.

But it wasn’t just the education system and careers service that came into the firing line – young people had some strong advice for both Government and business:

  • 73 % of young people think the Government should compel universities and the business sector to work more closely together to ensure that degrees better prepare young people for the work place
  • 76 % of young people want to see businesses take a more active role in schools and colleges to help young people better understand the skills employers are looking for


How do we know this?

The findings are taken from O2 Youth Matters, a long-term research project on behalf of O2 Think Big designed to gain a unique understanding and insight into the outlook, attitudes and opinions of young people. The findings will be published regularly to help create a picture of what young people in Britain think and feel about the important issues affecting their lives.

What do our people have to say about all this?

Commenting on the research, Ann Pickering, HR Director at O2 said, “These findings should act as a real wake up call to UK PLC that we need to do more to make opportunities available for talented young people. At O2 we employ nearly 2000 under 25 year olds but we are committed to doing more, whether that be through work experience placements, apprentice programmes or graduate recruitment. And through our Think Big programme we have seen that by giving young people, particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to run community projects, we can help provide them with the confidence and skills that employers prize and value.” Find out more about Think Big at 

What do external experts have to say about this?

Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency said: “The prospect of losing our brightest and best young people through emigration is one that we should all be horrified about. It is incumbent on those of us involved in developing youth policy to ensure every young person has a positive perception of their future as a fully contributing citizen. There is a real opportunity now for business and civil society to work together to create the proper pathways in to employment young people need and want.”

What do you think?

Let us know your thoughts on the matter, would you ever consider moving abroad to find “a better life”?

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on: 01753 565656
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