Britain's young are misunderstood, says The Co-operative

November 11, 2010

An alarming disconnect between the generations is highlighted by a new survey which dispels the widely held myth that young people just want to be famous.

The research released today (11 November) by The Co-operative as part of its 'Inspiring Young People’ campaign, shows that more than half of adults (58 per cent) think that the younger generation just wants fame and celebrity status.

The reality, however, is quite different with 76 per cent of those aged 25 and under stating that their main ambition was to have a prolonged and successful career. Whereas only seven per cent of the young people surveyed said they had ambitions to be a famous star.

The Co-operative, which launched its campaign in July to challenge the way young people are viewed and treated in this country and to support their future life goals and ambitions, asked 3,000 people across all ages and regions of the country about their thoughts on young people in society today.

Almost half of adults (46 per cent) believe that young people admire their friends more than their parents or teachers with almost three quarters of adults (73 per cent) believing that young people didn’t admire their parents at all.

In actual fact, more than half of the young people surveyed (54 per cent) listed a parent as the person they admire above all others.

Our future generation is also misunderstood when it comes to respecting their elders with a staggering 83 per cent of adults believing that young people have a lack of respect for them.

In contrast, young people demonstrated a much higher level of respect for adults with 43 per cent saying that they respected those who were much older themselves.

Commenting on the survey, Group Secretary Moira Lees said: “This survey gives a worrying insight into the gap that exists between the generations in this country and, sadly, as a society, we harbour a widespread negative attitude towards young people which doesn’t encourage or help to inspire them.

“All too often, we see or hear stories which portray youngsters as poorly educated, work-shy and uncaring,” she said. “As someone who helps run a business which employs over 120,000 people, a quarter of whom are aged 25 and under, I know this just isn’t true – we must start talking up the young in this country and see them as the solution rather than the problem.

“While our campaign will directly benefit 250,000 young people across the UK, we have set our sights far higher. In fact our vision is to help bring about a cultural shift in the way that young people are viewed and treated in this country.

“With more than five million shopper members across the UK, we are in a unique position to bridge the generation gap by organizing a wide variety of events which bring together the different age groups to discuss various topics and to campaign on issues such as climate change and alleviating global poverty.”

As part of its ‘Inspiring Young People’ campaign The Co-operative will:

  • Initially create 2,000 new Co-operative apprenticeships at a cost of £9million over two years with a view to extending the scheme to all young starters. The Co-operative currently employs 30,000 staff aged under 25
  • Invest £1million to support the rapid expansion of Co-operative Trust Schools bringing the total number to 200
  • Invest £2million in Truth About Youth, a national programme that will challenge and change the widespread negative perceptions of young people
  • Invest £1million in the Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers, a national programme that will support 3,000 young people from the most disadvantaged areas to deliver sport coaching for children in their communities
  • Engage its staff to raise £5million for a national charity that inspires young people
  • Invest £0.5million in its campaign to lower the voting age to 16 to give young people the voice they deserve

The Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy will offer:

  • Apprentices work experience in at least one other business area although they  will be based in one of The Co-operative’s family of businesses
  • Apprentices the opportunity to work towards a  recognised national qualification (NVQ, Duke of Edinburgh Award etc)
  • Apprentices the prospect of joining a management training scheme
  • Apprentices the chance to learn about co-operation via an inter-active web-based training course. The course will cover such topics as the co-operative model for conducting business and our values and principles
  • Apprentices an introduction to the Co-operative’s Social Goals programme and learn how its campaigning work can make a difference to individuals and communities
  • Apprentices the opportunity to  become members of the co-operative and  enjoy the benefits of membership including staff dividend

Additional Information:

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 123,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets handling more than 20 million weekly transactions.  

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services. 


For further information contact: 


Dave Smith 
PR Manager Corporate
Tel - 0161 827 5614
Mob - 07702 152 771

Lindsay Colbeck
Senior PR Officer
Tel - 0161 827 5629
Mob - 07713 267 466