YMCA South & Mid Canterbury today released the results report from its 2021 youth survey, which aims to take the pulse of the region’s youth aged 12-24 years on a range of topics. A record number of young people participated in the comprehensive survey.

This year’s survey included for the first time questions pertaining to the impact of Covid-19, work readiness, driver licences, career guidance, and behaviours around various drugs, alcohol, vaping, sexting and pornography, and expanded questions on volunteering. The full survey report can be downloaded here.

Changes to the 2021 survey included splitting the survey into three parts – Attitudes, Education & Employment, and Wellbeing – so that each of part would take only about five minutes to complete. The tactic proved wildly successful. This year’s survey garnered a record number of responses: 1243 for Attitudes, 862 for Education & Employment, and 853 for Wellbeing.

Key findings paint a mostly positive picture, with results remarkably similar across Districts, according to Michèle Keggenhoff, Youth Survey project manager.

“Since the inception of the Youth Survey in 2014, young people consistently tell us they have a good quality of life, that their District is a great place to live, and that job and social opportunities are key factors in whether they remain in or return to their Districts after finishing any study or training,” Keggenhoff said.

Key findings from the 2021 survey report include:

  • A healthy 70% of young people say their District has job opportunities to offer them, and 64% say there is work experience on offer. Young people are unsure (39%) of the availability of apprenticeships.
  • At least 50% of respondents indicated they had 9 of the 10 ‘work ready’ skills that are part of the Tertiary Education Commission’s Youth Guarantee Employability Skills Framework. The exception was “I have prepared or know how to prepare a CV” at 41%.
  • Only 12% of young people age 16+ have a full driver licence. 23% have no licence at all. Ashburton District has the highest percentage with no driver licence (37%), while Mackenzie District has the lowest percentage with a full licence (4%).
  • As with every survey since 2014 the bottom 3 career areas of interest to young people continue to be some of the region’s key sectors: Manufacturing & Production 4%, Transportation & Distribution 4% and Information Technology 7%.
  • 75% of young people say the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their wellbeing ‘not very much’ or ‘not at all’. However, it should be noted the majority of survey responses had already been received prior to the start of the second lockdown on 17 August. The survey closed on 22 August. Only 9% of respondents say the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their plans for study, training, or jobs ‘a lot’.
  • Young people identified their top 5 health issues as smoking/vaping (78%), mental health/depression/stress (64%), bullying online & offline (54%), drugs (51%), and alcohol (50%).
  • 36% of respondents have tried vaping, with 12% vaping daily or multiple times daily and 4% vaping 1-2 times per week. 11% of 12-year-olds had tried vaping, while 5% of 13-year-olds vape multiple times daily.
  • 34% of young people from age 13 upwards watch pornography, with 12% watching once or twice a week and 8% watching daily or multiple times daily. At age 17, 44% watch pornography with more than half watching daily or several times a week.
  • Nearly a third of Ashburton respondents and a quarter of Timaru respondents say they spend 6 or more hours daily using social media or streaming content online.