The Power of Communication
Let’s admit it; we’re currently undergoing a strange and chaotic transition period. I say “we” because it’s safe to say that the whole nation feels the same: uncertain. This doesn’t mean that uncertainty is necessarily a bad thing. With risk and improbability comes change and now, more than ever before, we can hope and fight for a more united future.
Great emphasis is being placed on young people to stand up and speak up via an array of communications channels. Whether it be by means of political participation, activism, everyday conversations, emails, social media, traditional media, etc., we have the power to shape the debate. There is a consensus among youth that the media cannot be trusted which doesn’t bode well for journalism with the prospect of shaping public perceptions and opinion.
In an article written by The Sunday Times, “Why it’s time for the young ones”, Tim Shipman highlights Populus’s polling data which shows how Corbyn won over a generation of first-time voters, 72% of young people to be exact, in the snap election as opposed to the hole dug into the Conservative Party by Theresa May. It’s clear from this turnout that Britain’s electorate wants fresh ideas however an ageing Tory leadership cannot provide this. Therefore, the dynamic shift seen in electoral campaigning with Corbyn’s strategy last year has engaged many young people with politics and unlocked their voices in advocating for a reality they would like to live in.
Nevertheless, given that the country is experiencing political and economic volatility, there is also growing concern that neither May nor Corbyn are best fit for the role of Prime Minister. This is largely because young people believe that they are being underrepresented by their leaders as well as their needs not being met. There is a real fear for the future growth of the UK economy, especially with: income squeezes, rising inflation and interest rates, skyrocketing house prices and unattractive tuition fees disincentivising talented youth from attending university. From this angle, it appears that the economy is skewed and unfavourable, reflected in the job opportunities available to young people.
According to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee Employment opportunities for young people Ninth Report of Session 2016–17, youth unemployment rate is still more than double the general unemployment rate, and some groups of young people remain particularly vulnerable to long-term unemployment. While the government seem to have found solutions to this gap, with apprenticeships and training programmes, these options do not necessarily ascertain satisfactory careers and well-paid jobs as the “right” opportunities are those which are aligned to an individual’s purpose and values. Thus, this constitutes a special case; one which warrants the transformation of current employment structures.
Although Brexit is going ahead, this experience can be used to seek and seize new opportunities outside of the EU, in rapidly growing markets such as India, Africa, Canada and Latin America. However, for this to take flight, the government need to guarantee the safety and security of young people and their rights by providing practical and responsible solutions to ensure it transpires. Therefore, it is crucial for young people to utilise a communications platform to voice their priorities, making clear what a post-Brexit Britain should look like. This includes safeguarding the values of the UK being a member of the EU; for example, not compromising on human and civil rights, travel options and freedom of movement, employment and education opportunities, environmental policy, trade relationships, and so on. By opening up space for this dialogue, young people can actively discuss issues that impact them (whether they participate politically in the Brexit debate or in everyday practice) and engage with relevant stakeholders who can influence youth policy development, including young people, families, academics, researchers, local MPs and/or government members, NGOs etc., to build positive international relations and preserve a strong UK economy.
So, what does it mean to have a voice and how can we, as youth, utilise this tool effectively? The first step is to acknowledge that this power holds a huge responsibility, as it’s a commitment to revolutionising the way that we live at present. For this to come to fruition, there needs to be a mindset shift which requires both discipline for and dedication to the cause. Whilst you may have a robust strategy in place, the process of policy development may not be rigid and so you must account for flexibility. Due to contrasting political views and ongoing debates, real change could take years to come into effect. Thus, the cause itself needs to be broad and unanimous; this way, it can be widely interpreted and, by use of different methods, achievable.
When done fearlessly, communications can be a strong catalyst used for social, economic, cultural and political change. For this to manifest, we need to envision a new system and recognise that change first begins with the individual. Your occupation doesn’t matter; what matters is how you choose to live and how you wish to see and make change happen. What matters is if a problem arises, you can come up with a pragmatic solution to eliminate it. You are involved.
If there is one thing to remember when using your voice to drive reform, it is that the personal is political.