How to Alleviate the Youth Debt Epidemic

UNIVERSITIES, colleges and schools want their students to have the best possible experience while there. Employers want a happy and productive workforce. Unfortunately, a significant number of young people are struggling with a difficulty that these establishments are ignoring.

Research commissioned by the Money Advice Trust in 2016 found that 51% of 18 to 24 year olds regularly worried about money, with more than a fifth of them losing sleep over it. Last year the Young Women’s Trust surveyed over 4000 young people between the ages of 18 and 30 and found that a quarter of them were in debt all the time, with only 39% of them expecting to be debt-free by the time they reached 40. Young people are encouraged into debt, but are not given the tools to manage it.

The Solution

Schools, colleges, universities and employers have an ideal opportunity to tackle this debt disaster. They can empower students and employees by giving them the tools they need to take back control of their money. If they take an active role to help them become financially literate, the benefits to health and well being will result in a happier student population and workforce.

Some examples of how it can be done

Schools: English schools already have budgeting as part of the school curriculum, Scotland doesn’t. Money management lessons within Social Education classes would be especially useful for senior students who are about to leave school.

Colleges & Universities: Information to students about how to use credit safely to grow a good credit score (and the pitfalls to avoid) would be easily accessible if displayed in busy areas around the campus. A regular workshop during freshers’ week and throughout the academic year would give students the opportunity to refresh their skills as they need them.

Employers: Budgeting courses for young staff (who are earning for the first time) could be provided as part of a new start induction programme. Refresher workshops could be useful continuous professional development for staff.

Managing money is a skill that many people wish they’d learned early on in life, but it’s so often overlooked. Don’t ignore the true cost of debt to your students or staff and we’ll all be better off.