More than half of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland would consider working abroad in the future - a jump in 5% in two years, new research has revealed.
The survey found more than 60% of respondents said they would consider working abroad, with over half considering studying abroad (57%) with females taking the lead in their desire to study in a foreign country.
The survey also revealed that gay and lesbian 16-year-olds are more likely to consider working and studying abroad compared to their heterosexual peers.
The research, carried out by ARK through its annual Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, shows that females are more likely than males to consider studying abroad — 62% compared to 49% — while those in more rural parts are less likely to consider leaving the UK for study, apprenticeship, or work than those from cities or city suburbs.
Around 75% of gay 16-year-olds would considering studying abroad, compared to 56% of their heterosexual counterparts.
The research also found most of those surveyed viewed learning an additional language as beneficial for their future.
The research involved 1,156 young people and was commissioned by British Council Northern Ireland as a way to gauge 16-year-olds’ attitudes to internalisation and language learning. All of those who took part were born in the new millennium and post the Belfast Agreement, and voiced their opinion on topics such as cultural life in Northern Ireland, limitations of classroom learning and aspirations to study, live and work abroad.
Jonathan Stewart, deputy director of the British Council Northern Ireland, said: “With the majority of 16-year-olds intending to go abroad in the future, better knowledge and practical information on opportunities should be made available to young people post-16.”
The results also show there is a need to provide more opportunities for young people to acquire language skills.
Mr Stewart added: “Young people really recognise the value of language learning, especially for use for travel and leisure reasons.”