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Ready for the world

Young people – with their dynamism, their energy and their inherent understanding of our interconnected world – have much to teach us. Increased educational attainment, advances in technology and the spread of information have made this generation the best educated, most connected and most informed in history. – Kofi Annan, 2013

There are 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 in the world today; the largest youth generation in history. Though fast-paced developments in technology mean the world has never been smaller or more accessible, it has also become increasingly unstable, uncertain and often insecure.

As today’s young people set out to find their place in the world, they face a broad mosaic of challenges. Bombarded by information, expectations and uncertainty, we believe they are growing up with complexities and challenges unseen by previous generations.

In this ever-changing environment, how do young people prepare themselves for their future? For their world?

Is formal education alone, still enough to ensure they have all the skills they need to tackle the world head-on?

Today’s young people – as was the case for many previous generations – are also labelled by a range of stereotypes. “Work-shy”, “unwilling”, “entitled” and “narcissistic” are just a few of the negative labels young people experience. Yet when these are cast aside, most people’s experience of young people shows them to be hard working, interested, engaged in society, and to have a genuine desire to make the world a better place. They simply have a slightly different way of approaching things.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award aims to help young people find their purpose, passion and place in the world. Equipping young people with skills and confidence for life and helping them to find their potential has never been more important. On an individual level this can make a transformational difference to a young person’s life; on a collective basis, it has the power to make significant change to wider society.

But is this just a matter of young people being ready for the world? Or do we also have to consider whether the world is really ready to engage positively with young people and the opportunities that they can bring?

Over the past few months, we have been running a series of surveys to start investigating this further.

To date, we have surveyed more than 12,000 people across 150+ countries and territories. We know we are only scratching the surface and have a long way to go, to capture the complexity and diversity of young people around the world. But we hope this document will go some way to starting to drive more discussion on this topic.

Join the debate and help even more young people ensure they are ready for their world – and the world is ready for them - by visiting


John May, DL, Secretary General

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation


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