At a time in which employment is precarious, wages feel low and – in light of Brexit – general economic uncertainty, 16-24 year olds today have adopted a more flexible attitude towards life in which they take each day as it comes.
Traditionally long-term goals may have been set by previous generations, but in order to remain flexible in uncertain times, Tribes find themselves tackling life in more of a day-to-day approach.
“In 5 years time I would have been out of university for 4 years and hopefully finishing off my training as a lawyer. I hope that I would have maintained the real friendships I have with people now, despite perhaps moving away to London. I hope that I continue to be ambitious.” – Female, 19
We asked 81 of our Tribes to rank a list of their top priorities in life to establish what was important to them and what was least important.
“In 5 years I would hope to have already successfully obtained my Bachelors degree in 2022 for Accounting and Finance and in 2023 graduating with a Masters degree in Forensic Accounting. At this 5 year mark I hope that my online store for selling some of my art/designs is doing well and gaining positive attraction on social media. I see myself moving on after postgraduates to working in the financial sector and developing my accounting career. During that 5 years I wish to have accomplished my goals of losing weight, being more healthy physically/mentally, completing language courses in Spanish and BSL, learn the guitar and start the process of moving to Toronto.” – Female, 17
For youths today, there is an increased amount of pressure to do everything within a short period of time; they have a multitude of dreams and goals they want to accomplish with, what feels like, very little time to do so. Tribes are striving for financial stability and opting for career paths that will offer them financial security; this is seen as the first step towards achieving the success they strive for.
However, amidst their dreams and goals, they still want to retain their friendships and the values that matter to them; ultimately helping to keep them centred as individuals. They are ever-optimistic to see what the world has to offer through travel, developing new passions and finding love.
With high competition in the job sector, this group are also using the disposable resources available to help upskill themselves. Not afraid to expand their skillsets, Tribes are learning the trades of various occupations so that they increase their employment opportunities – this includes experimentation with social media to generate disposable income that may potentially lead towards avenues in work.
“I would describe my work ethic as determined” – Female, 18, Mainstream, Pop:Socials
16-24 year olds in 2018 consider themselves to be one of the most ambitious and hardworking generations of our time; they recognise the value of hard work, but will only pursue a career if they feel that it is worthwhile and good for their development. This demographic have a certain mentality that if you want to get the job done then you have to take responsibility into your own hands. Overall there is the belief that a career enables freedom and a sense of purpose that contributes towards a larger part of their identity in the wider world.
“A career gives you a purpose” – Female, 21, Leading Edge, Short:Snaps
“Success to me means development for the future” – Female, 16
“A career gives you opportunities and pride” – Male, 19, Leading Edge, Pop:Socials
“I would describe my work ethic as ‘get the job done’ but enjoy it if you can.” – 17, Leading Edge, VOD:Bingers
“Success to me means doing something worth while” – 22, Alternative, Short:Snaps
Tribes feel that the biggest difference between them and their parent’s generation is the definition of dreams and success. They believe that their parents were content with having the basic necessities in life and placed less emphasis on having a ‘dream career’ or acquiring new experiences following a traditional route to achieving a fulfilled life.
“Today there is so much competition in all work sectors and even more pressure on my generation to succeed financially so our priorities are driven by financial security and the desire for recognition. However, I think my generation is lucky and fortunate to have even more opportunities than my parent’s generation.” – Female, 18
“I think our generation’s dreams are more about experiences and getting out there and seeing the world, whereas my parents generation’s dreams where more about being financially stable and owning a house” – Anonymous
Although 16 – 24’s believe that it was easier in their parent’s day to purchase property, get a job and have a family, Tribes feel that the traditional path isn’t necessarily a marker of success. More opportunities have opened up for them in the face of adversity with developments in technology to assist them along the way.
It is important to remember that while their pool of resources have expanded, young adults still value education and see a degree as a golden ticket towards opening new doors. As a result, young adults tend to take less for granted since many aspects of life doesn’t feel guaranteed.
There are 3 key milestones that are important to both generations; having a house, career and a family. Beyond these pillars, Tribes define success through travel, learning & development, having adventures, going to university and social media.
“I think my aspirations are very much my own whereas before I think parents took a lot more control over things, I think there’s so much choice these days and there are far more opportunities for people to get involved in a wide range of subjects – I don’t think careers advisors who used to dictate your career path have any say anymore!” – Female, 16
Since the last Heroes report conducted for Channel 4, a notable difference can be found where more focus is being placed on celebrities who give back to society. These celebrities include sports players, musicians, TV show hosts and philanthropists who champion human rights.
Musicians – Nicki Minaj
In May 2017, Nicki Minaj spontaneously decided to help her fans with the cost of their education fees and has since started a charity with the hashtag #StudentOfTheGame helping fans pursue higher education.
“I think celebs now are considered a hero when they give back like Chance the Rapper and Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Gaga. They all help their community or support other communities. I know Chance gave back a lot to the youths of Chicago, Nicki Minaj has Student of The Game where she pays for university fees, supplies etc. We need people like them because they used/ use their platforms for something good and to inspire people to want to do better” – Male, 18, Leading Edge, Short:Snaps
Musicians – David Bowie
David Bowie’s commitment and work ethic have been recognised as heroic qualities by our Tribes. His bravery in creating such a unique and distinct persona was also heralded as one of his most inspiring qualities.
“I consider David Bowie a hero because he worked incredibly hard to get where he did in the music industry. Bowie would only sleep for 4 hours a day sometimes because he was performing, writing or watching other artists perform. He managed to get to a point where he had his own distinct voice/style – he started his own trend and brought his own unique take on his art form. – 17, Leading Edge, VOD:Bingers
Athletes – Cristiano Ronaldo
Despite being one of the wealthiest athletes in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo does his fair share of charity work and has repeatedly donated his wealth to help fund war-torn schools in Gaza. He is an ambassador for major charities such as Save the Children and Unicef and regularly donates blood – hence being completely tattoo-free!
“I would say some athletes like Ronaldo and John Cena. I consider some famous people hero-s who donate most of their money to charity. We need more people like them because they-re a great role model to children all over the world.”– Male, 20, Mainstream, Short:Snaps
Athletes – Tammy Hembrow
It isn’t just their charitable work that make athletes hero’s to our tribes. one member of the community mentioned YouTuber Tammy Hembrow as someone who’s inspired them to change their lifestyle and get back in the gym.
“I consider a fitness person Tammy Hembrow a hero . She got me back into fitness as lately for about a year or so I haven’t been consistent at the gym so have lost all progress made within the 2 years that I was. We need heroes like them as they motivate you – Female, 18
Entrepreneurs – Steve Jobs
After coming from nothing, dropping out of college and founding Apple in his parents garage, the journey, hard work and creativity of Steve Jobs is seen as an inspiration to our Tribes.
“Steve Jobs Something about his ruthless work ethic yet also being a charismatic businessman. As a kid I really looked up to him, almost as if he was a god. It’s important to have heroes, they give people dreams.”– Anonymous
Entrepreneurs – Bill Gates
Bill Gates is seen as a hero for our Tribes for not only, becoming the second richest person in the world having founded Microsoft over 40 years ago, but also his charitable work – including his most recent donation of $4.6bn to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight malaria.
“I consider Bill Gates a hero. He started with nothing and has through time worked his way to becoming CEO of one of the biggest tech brands around. Nowadays he is doing a lot of charity work which is also great to see! We need heroes like him that are happy to give back to charity and are there to do some good in the world. He is also dyslexia (A condition I also have) So its good to look up to someone who has the same condition. ” – 20, Mainstream, Short:Snaps
Political Activists – Martin Luther King
Several of our Tribes mentioned political activists such as Martin Luther King as their heroes, for their work campaigning for equality. Several Tribes mentioned how impressed they were that these figures had been willing to sacrifice their life for their beliefs.
“Every individual that stood up and made change to the world in a positive light.. the likes of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Emily Davison, Nelson Mandela etc.) These people, however clueless to their great importance have made an impact that has changed the way we think, act and look upon our future… We need these people for many reasons, but the one most prominent reason is for change for the better.” Female – 22
Political Activists – Sir Michael Marmot
It wasn’t just the famous historic activists that the Tribes look up to, they also mentioned lesser known contemporary ones too.; such as Sir Michael Marmot, who has spent over 35 years researching and campaigning against how social inequalities effect health.
“I consider Sir Michael Marmot a hero, his work on health inequalities is unrivalled in the field of medicine, he is a great political activist for health and holds all governments to account, even when he is supposed to be impartial. we need more heroes like him to hold governments to account when they are failing, whilst he is a hero, he is one voice. We can all speak out when we believe something is wrong.”– Female – 22
Celebrity Activists – Billy Bragg
Tribes also mentioned people who became celebrities, then used their platform to talk about social issues that are important to them. Musician Billy Bragg was mentioned, for using his platform and music to promote causes he cares about.
“One of my heroes is Billy Bragg. I admire the way he uses his celebrity platform to talk about issues and the fact he hasn’t sold out -. We need people to speak up for people who are less vocal and less fortunate..” Female, 17, Alternative, Short:Snaps
Celebrity Activists – Oprah
Oprah is no stranger to racism and prejudice and Tribes herald her for her bravery. Through her platform she has empowered young Black people by initiating scholarship funds as well as backing endless charities that focus on helping improve the quality of life for women.
“I aspire to be like Oprah Winfrey when it comes to success. I aspire to be like outspoken women of today who fight for their rights as females. I also aspire to be like Black activists who campaign for Black peoples lives, justice and equality” – Female, 18
Humanitarians – Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie was named 2009’s most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes magazine, and she’s been using that celebrity status to support many different causes including AIDS & HIV, Cancer, Human Trafficking, Women’s rights and refugees – for which she became a UN envoy in 2012.
“Angelina Jolie inspires because she uses her fame for the better good. She also helps and fights for causes which mean a lot to people. We need heroes like her because she portrays to viewers that if you have power or authority you can make huge differences” – Male, 18, Leading Edge, Short:Snaps
Humanitarians – Amal Clooney
Internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer and activist, Amal Clooney has represented the country of Armenia in its fight for recognition of the Armenian Genocide to helping Syrian refugees who have fled their homes. Her fight to champion human rights demonstrates that Amal leads no ordinary life.
““I consider the billionaire who offered Syrian refugees an island to live in a hero, along with people who do humanitarian work like Amal Clooney. They are heroes because they are dedicated to improving and saving the lives of people who are the most vulnerable.” – Female, 21, Leading Edge, Short:Snaps
Not all Tribes mentioned specific people when talking about their heroes. Several members of the community mentioned groups of people like Doctors, Nurses and Teachers , who are ‘selfless not selfish ‘, who make personal sacrifices to help other people
“This may sound insane but I consider people who adopt heroes. With the ever growing population on this planet, people who choose to give a child a second chance in life instead of being stuck until they reach 18 in the care system deserve more credit than they achieve. We need more hero’s like them as like I said with the ever growing population, the more children suffering is rising too.” Transgender, 22, Alternative, Short:Snaps
“I think teachers are definitely heroes, they work much longer hours than they-re hired for, they-re passing on knowledge for future generations and the good teachers really do care about the futures and the success of their students, many help students who struggle in their own time and I think that-s so important. We need people like that to get people through the tough school system and to keep churning out intelligent individuals!” – Female, 16
“I think NHS staff are very good. I think some activists who put their livelihoods on the line to fight for things they believe in are very good . Doing practical things and taking steps to implement a better world/ planet, actually acting on your beliefs. Helping other people.”- Anonymous
Although there’s been a slight change in preferences among the hero list, Tribes don’t feel the need to idolise anyone. With the rise of social media stars combined with well-known celebrities in mainstream media, young adults prefer to focus on the positive qualities and attributes of different people who they personally know and have made a positive impact on the world. The qualities often noted in a hero include compassion, patience, perseverance as well as kindness and respect for others. Tribes still admire figures who do good but there is little desire to be them. This comes from a strong sense of being comfortable with who you are as 16-24’s battle with their identity and find a greater sense of peace when trying to be themselves.
“There is nobody in this world that I aspire to be like, however, I aspire to have some qualities that many good people in this world possess for example compassion, patience and self-restraint because these will be the factors that will determine how I react to things.” – Female, 18, Leading Edge, VOD:Bingers
“There’s not one person I aspire to be like, I see certain qualities from different people and try to aspire to be like that, but I don’t want to shape myself to be just like someone else.” – 17, Leading Edge, VOD:Bingers
Selfless acts of kindness and love were often mentioned as being qualities found in a hero where Tribes immediately mentioned their parents to be their personal hero. This generation feel close to their parents and family members who listen to their concerns when times get tough. The unconditional love of a mother or father is one that Tribes hope to one day achieve where the act of putting someone before yourself is something they deeply admire.
Heroes really do come in all forms where alongside stars who do good in the wider world, people who have made a personal impact on them are also admired. Tribes provided strong examples of teachers who had inspired them in education to those who are willing to adopt a child and give them a chance to flourish.
“My mother. She does everything for me and has been through so much but is still so strong. I don’t know how she does it and how she fights it all. We need mothers because they are the only ones who truly care for us in this world and will always want to know that we are doing well and are safe and in good health.” – Female, 20
“My parents inspire me, as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to appreciate more all the stuff they’ve done for me and how much work it must have been! They’re a hero because I look up to them and it would be amazing if I come anywhere near close to them! We all need heroes like them because they put life into a good perspective and give you something to aim for.” – Female, 20, Urban, VOD:Socials
“My dad’s a massive hero to me, he’s supported me and looked after me forever, built a business up from nothing so that he could do what he loves and provide for his family. He looks after everyone who needs it and is so caring and giving, he inspires me everyday and we need more people to hold his same values.”– Female, 19
“It’s cliché but I consider my mum to be my hero. She is there for me and my other siblings 24/7, whether that be emotionally, financially or any other way. No matter what she comes to the rescue of every situation. I can always count on her to solve everything. The way she never asks for anything in return, makes her even more of a hero. We need heroes to help us through life as it can get rough.” – Female, 23
“My maths teacher is absolutely amazing, she’s so passionate about maths and it’s evident that she loves her job and she’s inspired me to follow down maths as a baseline career path so I could maybe have the same effect on someone the same way further down the line. As maths teachers are heavily needed, people like her are needed so children in the future aren’t being taught maths by non-specialist teachers.” – Female, 17
“I consider someone who puts someone before them as a hero. My boyfriend is my hero and I know that sounds cheesy but he is, he has helped me in so many ways. I have had struggles with a lot and he has helped me and sacrificed a lot for me. We need heroes like him because they change lives and if it wasn’t for people like him people would struggle and give up.”– Female, 17, Alternative, Short:Snaps