Next Generation girl

Next Generation Ireland/Northern Ireland (December 2018)

Next Generation Ireland/Northern Ireland captures the voice, aspirations and attitudes of young people at a crucial time, and is part of the British Council’s Next Generation series.

Both Ireland and Northern Ireland are experiencing a period of profound social, political and economic change, and the young population – like their peers around the world – face a challenging and unpredictable future. Northern Ireland’s youth – the post-Troubles generation – are faced with a number of leftover problems from the region’s main period of conflict, while those living in Ireland face the challenges left from the 2008 financial crash, particularly around employment and housing.

In addition to these particular tests, young people right across the island of Ireland are also attempting to navigate the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and its implications for their future economic prosperity, opportunities to work, study and travel across Europe, as well as the issues of the border and the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.

Yet despite these considerable challenges and potential reasons for anxiety about their futures, young people throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland have greater access to certain opportunities than any generation that went before them.

Carried out by the Institute for Conflict Research (ICR), this report, which surveyed over 1,000 18–30 year-olds, looks into five areas concerning young people –– education, employment, social issues, politics and future prospects.


In April 2021, a further series of focus groups assembled 18- to 30-year-olds from Next Generation Europe countries (UK 2017, Ireland/Northern Ireland 2018, Germany 2019, Italy 2020 and Poland 2021) to revisit this research and to reflect on its findings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We then discussed the outcomes of this process in our online roundtable, 'Stronger together: Working with young people in Europe' in May 2021. You can read some interesting reflections from both the focus groups and roundtable in the There is power in young people article.


Next Generation Ireland–Northern Ireland is part of a global British Council research series focusing on the attitudes and aspirations of young people, and the policies and conditions that support them in becoming creative, fulfilled and active citizens. So far, research has also been carried out in South Africa, Germany, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Italy, Vietnam, Turkey, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and the rest of the UK.  


The Next Generation programme is part of the British Council’s commitment to exploring youth voice and choice, and to putting research at the heart of our programming. The stated aims of the programme are to:

  1. Understand youth attitudes and aspirations
  2. Amplify youth voice
  3. Support better youth policy-making

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