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Rural youth 'optimistic about the future'

Rural young people feel optimistic about their future – despite the challenges of transport, access to services, employment and connectivity.

The Rural Youth Project survey collated the opinions of over 750 young people living or working in rural areas – both in the UK and abroad.

The project was initiated by UK-based rural communications specialists Jane Craigie Marketing to find out more about the opinions and attitudes of 18-28-year-olds.

It seeks to inform rural stakeholders and policy-makers – and help support the future of young people in the rural economy and its communities.

The results of the survey were announced on Thursday (2 August) at the inaugural Rural Youth Ideas Festival, attended by more than 100 delegates in Scotland.

Jane Craigie, of Jane Craigie Marketing, 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.”

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 survey found that inter-related issues of limited job opportunities, poor transport links and insufficient or expensive housing make living in rural places challenging for young people.

Some 45% of respondents said they found it difficult to find work close to where they live and 60% wanted more access to activities to meet other young people in their areas.

The results also highlighted that 94% consider digital connectivity essential to their future – yet 12% of respondents had no mobile coverage and more than one third had inadequate broadband.

Over half of the respondents said they didn't feel they had a say in the future of their community with regards, for example, to transport and planning.

Some 72% were optimistic about the future, however, although 25% of respondents were considering moving to an urban centre.

The Rural Youth Project also aims to identify young people with leadership potential and equip them with the skills to assume leadership and instigate positive change in their communities.

The inaugural Rural Youth Ideas Festival, held against a backdrop of glamping, live music and local food, is a key element of this.

It featured a line-up of inspiring speakers and interactive workshops to hone the leadership, business and communication skills of the 80 young people attending.

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