Two thirds of our young people want to build their future outside Northern Ireland, a major new poll for the Belfast Telegraph has revealed.
hen asked where they saw their future more than one in four wanted to leave the UK and Ireland altogether to live in the rest of Europe, the US or Australia.
And in a finding that should send a clear message to our political leaders, the LucidTalk research has also shown that most of our young generation do not believe that there is peace – two decades after the first ceasefires.
All week this newspaper is running a special series 'The Young' which focuses on our rising generation. These are the new voters and soon-to-be voters. These are the people who are poised to shape this society in the coming decades – if they choose to stay here. And our opinion poll of people aged 16-24 has revealed some dramatic results about how they view the country in which they live, and those who govern us. The poll showed:
* 67% of the young see the future outside Northern Ireland
* 70% of the young think our politicians are incapable of agreeing a joint vision for the future of the country
* a staggering 65% do not think there is peace in this country
* more than 50% said they met someone from the other tradition frequently or very frequently.
The planned exodus and the lack of confidence in the future is the most startling finding of our survey.
These are the children of the peace process. A tech-savvy demographic known as Generation Y who are strangely pessimistic about the social order they are inheriting.
The pattern of planned migration also has a religious dimension. Proportionately, more Protestants than Catholics wanted to get out of Northern Ireland.
More than 60% of those who wanted to stay here in the long term described themselves as Catholics and 39.3% identified themselves as Protestants.
A similar proportion of young people as those who want to leave believe that there is no peace in Northern Ireland. Here the feeling was unanimous across the religious groups with no significant variations.
Although we have noted differences between the two religious blocks, the young have more in common than divides them.
A large number (31.8%), described themselves as "none or other" when asked their religion. Of these, most (20.9%) said they had no religion. Some 38 out of the 550 respondents declined to even give an answer to this question. This was a very high proportion of non-responses. In contrast, all 550 answered the four questions we are featuring today.
For the next five days, eight students, four boys and four girls, from schools in Northern Ireland will join us in our Royal Avenue offices. They will see how the paper is run. They will see how our award-winning website works and they will go to Stormont to meet the politicians and see how Stormont works – or doesn't. We will hear their verdicts on what they see there. As the week unfolds, we will publish more of the poll's findings and test them against the views of our eight interns.
We'll find out whether their experiences have made them more or less optimistic about the future. At the end of the process they will, if they agree, try their hands at editing Friday's paper. That will be a chance to sum up and share their impressions and experiences during the week.
Polling work was conducted by LucidTalk, the Belfast-based market research company which carried out the full opinion polls we published in 2012 and 2013. Young people were interviewed across Northern Ireland until a random sample of 550 full responses was obtained within the targeted 16-24 age group. 22.5% were at school, 25.5% attended university or college, 24.9% were in training, 13.9% had jobs and 13.8% were not in employment or training.
Most of the work was carried out by telephone (70%). The rest by polling in youth groups (20%), and face-to-face interviews (10%). The results are accurate to a margin of error of +/-4.1%, at 95% confidence.