Creating the Good Economy for Generation Y

NICVA's Centre for Economic Empowerment (CEE) held a major conference in Belfast on Friday 31 January, looking at issues faced by Generation Y – people born after 1979.

Speakers at the 'Creating the Good Economy' event included renowned commentators Bonnie Greer and Ed Howker along with economist Richard Ramsey.

The conference stimulated fresh thinking about how the needs of Northern Ireland’s young people could be addressed. The conference opened with a short video (see below) by Lyra McKee, a 23 year old journalist from Belfast, who asked whether the economic opportunities promised to the post-Agreement generation has been delivered.

Creating the Good Economy for Life - GenerationY from NICVA on Vimeo.

Ed Howker, author of The Jilted Generation, said that rather than blaming the plight of young people on a lack of grit, we should look at economic policies such as those that have made it unattractive for businesses to invest in new workers, have allowed the housing market to serve speculators and not residents, and that have racked up huge debts for future generations to pay. He called for a more long-term approach to economic policy which better balances the well-being of current and future generations.

Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist of Ulster Bank asked whether young people have been jilted or just need to be jolted. He argued that in many respects (such as the variety of jobs available, improved technology, and ease of travel) young people enjoy unprecedented opportunities and should make sure they seize them.

The final speaker, author, playwright and critic Bonnie Greer, argued that if economies are to successfully manage the pace and depth of technological change then young people must be given a leading role in industry. She also said that if we are to adapt to technological change we need a wider conception of education - not just as a means to a job, but as a way of improving our ability to think.

Lisa McElherron, NICVA’s head of public affairs said, “Following the 1998 Agreement young people believed they would enjoy not only peace but prosperity as well. Instead they face unemployment, low wages and job insecurity, are struggling to get onto the housing ladder, and are shackled with debt. Many are increasingly looking at emigration as the only solution. This is an unacceptable situation for a generation that was promised so much.

Today was an opportunity to discuss not only the difficulties but also how to develop local, effective solutions to these problems. Doing what we have always done or copying programmes developed elsewhere clearly isn’t good enough. The onus is on political, business and social leaders to step up before the potential of this generation is squandered.”

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities during the COVID-19 emergency can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.