New survey showcases optimism of Rural youth

Hannah Downey

The results of a new survey show that 71% of young people living in rural locations feel optimistic about their future - despite the challenges of transport, access to services, employment and connectivity. The Rural Youth Project survey, conducted between January and June 2018, has collated the opinions of over 750 young people living or working in a rural areas in the UK and further afield - including respondents from Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United States. 

The project was initiated by Scotland-based rural and agricultural communications specialists, Jane Craigie Marketing, to find out more about the opinions and attitudes of 18-28-year-olds with a view to informing wider industry and policy-makers and consequently to support the future of young people in the rural economy.

The Rural Youth Project included the online survey, as well as an online series of vloggers sharing their experiences and hopes from around the world. The survey results were presented yesterday morning (Thursday 2nd August) at the Rural Youth Ideas Festival, which was funded by Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER. The festival was attended by over 100 delegates including Mairi Gougeon MSP, industry organisations and young people from rural places in the UK and across the world.

The Scottish Rural Network also attended the event as partners in the Rural Youth Project, and we had a great time meeting some of the delegates for a chat about the issues they face living in a rural area. There were some incredibly inspirational speakers, live music and local food - we’ll be posting videos and interviews on social media covering the festival, and keep an eye out for next week’s newsletter which will include a full event report!

Jane Craigie of Jane Craigie Marketing, which launched the project with the support of industry partners from the UK and Europe, said:

"The principle of the project is to give young people their voices in what they want to do and change, not what older people think they need. The results of the survey illustrate first-hand the true barriers and opportunities which are influencing young people’s choices, and we are looking forward to sharing those as a first step in this project. 

Young people are the life-blood and future of rural communities, and if we can unite young exuberance with the assets older people can offer - experience, networks and the ability to mobilise resources to help - we can empower young people to enact change themselves and shape their own future as well as that of the rural economy. The project wouldn’t have been possible without the belief of our partners and Perth & Kinross LEADER in helping us deliver our vision – a journey to support rural young people in creating a future for themselves outside the cities and towns.”

The survey received a total of 755 responses, with 570 from the UK and the remaining 180 principally from Australia, Canada, Sweden and the USA. The final results of the survey, which were analysed with the support of Scottish Enterprise, show that the inter-related issues of limited job opportunities, poor transport links and insufficient or expensive housing make living in rural places challenging for young people. Forty-five percent said they found it difficult to find work close to where they live and 60% wanted more access to activities which would help them meet other young people in their areas.

You can register to receive the full report here, which will be made available on Saturday 4th August.