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The ‘silver-lining’ of youth future in the new normal: Describing a new generation

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

While everything around us, especially the future of our youth generation, seems to be going wrong, there is always a ‘silver-lining’ that need to be discovered. Life has taught us always that with every major negative event, we have lots of positive opportunities that need to be discovered.

OBJECTIVE:

This paper aims to explore the new normal post-COVID-19 pandemic generation perspectives.

METHODS:

In this paper, the outcome of a global study of youth perception about their future in the post-COVID-19 pandemic is carried out and discussed in details.

RESULTS:

The results of the study help to foresight the type of the coming youth generation in the new normal and address their challenges and requirements in the new normal. The paper results lead to understanding what ways COVID-19 have affected and changed their life as a youth. The results show what shape the vision of youth toward.

CONCLUSION:

The outcome of this international youth-focused study opens lots of insights for youth leaders, youth-focused government planners, education experts to see what type of programs, schemes, strategies, the curriculum need to be established in their communities based on the areas of strength and the areas of weakness that need to be addressed. More studies are advised in this line to complement the generalisation of this work. The main implication of this paper is that it brings new perspectives on how youth see hope in the new normal, and this might help to establish Inter-generational Dialogue that mitigates the state of uncertainty. The other implication of this research is that set direction for governments towards youth needs in the new normal.

hsm-39-hsm201043-g005.jpg Dr Dunya Ahmed is an assistant professor in University of Bahrain & Scientific Committee Chairperson in the Institute of Inspiration Economy, EU & MENA. Completed her PhD in social work at the University of Warwick, specialized and concentrates mainly on equity and the rights of women and people with disabilities. She is co-founder of Inspiration Economy concept, Journals, projects & institutions globally. She is Editorial Board of several international scientific journal and active member of several NGOs & Chairperson of Inspiration Economy Society in Bahrain. She has also contributed to the preparation and implementation of a number of strategies and preparation and discussion of international reports.

hsm-39-hsm201043-g006.jpg Dr. Mohamed Buheji is the founder of International Inspiration Economy Project which includes International Institutes of Inspirational Economy and Youth Economy Forums. His focus on areas of Excellence, Knowledge, Innovation, Inspiration, Change Management, Enhancement of Competitiveness, Future Foresight, Socio-economic problem solving, Power of Thinking, Lifelong Learning Curiosity and Poverty Economy. Besides being retired professor from Bahrain University. Besides being expert in, Dr Buheji is also the Founder of the International Journal of Inspiration & Resilience Economy and International Journal of Youth Economy.

Dr. Buheji has published since 2008 more than 200 peer-reviewed journals, conferences papers and 29 books https: //www.researchgate.net/profile/Mohamed_Buheji/publications

hsm-39-hsm201043-g007.jpg Walla Ahmed AlMutawa, graduated from University of Bahrain in 2019 and got her B.A in Sociology Development and Society, Minor in Psychology. She is active member in several NGOs i.e. Bahrain Society of Sociologists and Bahrain Inspiration Economy Society.

She heads youth committee in Bahrain Inspiration Economy Society and manged organising the “Creating Legacy in Times of Crisis Conference and Workshops” that was organised by International Institutes of Inspirational Economy and other projects for the society.

She has great passion in different volunteering projects, were she found herself by helping various communities to do a change in the world.

1Introduction

The unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis that hit the world and threatens many people life and livelihood since early 2020, had a huge toll on youth ambitions for the future and the way they see the meaning of life and life-purposefulness.

The challenges on all parts of the community sectors, be it education, health, SME’s, civil work, part-time work opportunities have negatively impacted young people [2].

In all types of crises and times of need, be it human rights, or climate change, or opposition to armed conflict, or socio-economic demand, young people always been at the front quick to take action and respond to the needs of their community in the right time and with high momentum. The same is happening now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While attention is currently focused on those most immediately affected by the virus, there are many indications that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting social, cultural, economic, political and multidimensional impacts on the whole of societies, including the young generation and the children that is soon going to be part of the youth group. (UN, 2020).

The paper reviews the youth role in responding to COVID-19 crisis, including their role in leading awareness program, connecting people together, supporting the vulnerable, peer-to-peer teaching, self-sufficiency, being part of health professionals, and being leading researchers exploring solutions and being a source for social cohesion.

Also, the researchers explore the importance of working with the marginalised and poverty community youth. The research reviews further the way expected from youth in dealing with the ‘new normal’, including dealing with their economic future, challenges of their mental health, [4, 13, 16].

The literature review shows that youth would be the source of many countries differentiation in the new normal. Therefore, this gives importance for the assessment of youth future during and after the pandemic, i.e. in the new normal, with a focus on both youth social capital in times of transformation and the coming coronavirus generation [9].

2Literature review

2.1Youth role in responding to COVID-19 crisis

Youth can be a great proactive in combating the spread of COVID-19 through volunteering to mitigate the risks of the pandemic and its impacts. This also would be very beneficial for their leadership and proper maturity for the new normal and its related transformative change. Caring to create their empathetic thinking through trusting to give them more responsibility at this stage would develop their commitment towards believing a better future [6, 18].

2.1.1Leading COVID-19 awareness program

Many youths volunteered officially or unofficially to emphasise the importance of physical distancing and proper measures to stop the spread of the virus. Young people are helping promote the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Young people are finding new ways to mitigate the risks that physical distancing poses on social justice and inclusion, as well as safeguarding the human rights of groups who are at-risk [11].

2.1.2Youth as a source for social cohesion

Young people are connecting communities together at a time of separation, through innovative ideas and social media platforms to raise community spirit. Young people are also at the forefront of facing and filtering the fake news about the COVID-19, the pandemic and discrimination news.

Many youths believe more than any other previous generation that this is a time where the world needs to strengthen its ties, be tolerant and more resilient. This is the generation that might roll-up social cohesions among groups and between the different generations and nations [7].

2.1.3Supporting the vulnerable

Addressing the COVID-19-related needs of the most vulnerable, in difficult times, is not an easy job. Hence, many youths all over the world volunteered for supporting people with disabilities, older persons, people with co-morbidity diseases, migrants, refugees, the marginalised communities and those living in slums and informal settlements. Many youths divided themselves towards delivering food and medication [11].

2.1.4Youth as a source of self-sufficiency

While the world fights against the virus and the post-pandemic recovery, youth development should remain a top priority, because this is a generation that can create a leap for the time missed during the COVID-19. Young people are also assisting schools with limited resources by peer-to-peer online-learning.

In rural areas of the developing countries, young workers, including young farmers and rural entrepreneurs, are innovating and using various technologies and communication tools to develop self-sufficiency. This ensured access to many vulnerable people with adequate food supply for the population.

2.1.5Young filling the gap for health professionals and researchers

Despite the shortages of protective equipment (PPEs), young health professionals, medical and nursing students take the leap risk. These youth were at the front line of the pandemic.

Many young researchers are at the front in helping to combat the pandemic and the COVID-19 disease, working today for developing life-saving medicines or vaccines. Other disciplinary researchers’ are joining the knowledge community generation to promote more research and fact-based information.

2.2Working with the marginalised and poverty community youth

At this challenging time, it is very important that youth work with the marginalised and the poverty community, including rural young people.

Migrants and refugees youth and youth with disabilities need special physical and mental healthcare. Another special program needs to be dedicated to the lower- and middle-income countries [4, 13].

2.3Youth dealing with the ‘new normal’

This is the time where youth are highly needed for the effectiveness and the speed of the coming transformative change. The new normal needs efficient solutions that leverage and develop implementing solutions on multiple fronts. These actions by young people need to be invested in, recognised and amplified. This is a time for institutions and governments to enhance trust in young people and give them the opportunity to create the change [3, 9].

The COVID-19 pandemic brought hybrid health, social, economic, socio-political crises that are unprecedented and with permanent implications for many years to come. Therefore, youth need to be equipped with new competencies that fit the requirements of life in the ‘new normal’ [8].

Most youth observing the lockdown are increasingly anxious about their future prospects, their careers, their educational progress and the direction in life journey and their potential contribution to the society. Policymakers need to be particularly engaged with youth to ensure they mentor the profound effects of the post-COVID-19 spillover [12].

The ‘new normal’ goes well beyond keeping two metres away from others in shops and on the street. Thus youth are more than ever required to living and dealing with the underlying forces creating the crisis. Arguably, safeguarding humanity’s future has become the challenge of the youth of this era [5].

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many young people did not have high hopes about their future and were not that satisfied with their current experience. However, now it is an opportunity for many of these youth to change their satisfaction to be away from only income and possessions to capacity to contribute to live and doing change. This needs a new mindset that appreciates the importance of having life business models that sustain happiness without being strained with ‘what happens to you’, but ‘what happens from you’ [10, 12].

While settling into the “New Normal”, more programs need to mitigate the feeling and the fear of the ‘BIG changes’ coming so fast, and that would have an immediate psychological effect such as the unavailability of jobs, Buheji and Sisk [9]. The challenge for looking for a job is even more difficult when human interactions or transactions require a social distancing and dealing with employers negative mode [2].

The alternative of working from home is becoming more competitive where many people and even organisations that are trying to survive are fighting for such rare type of jobs. Youth is really under tremendous pressure to discover the new normal role of the game while they are trying to deal with unstable 3 F’s: Family, Finance, and Freedom.

While spending more time with family was fun and brought many values back to youth, setting 24hours seven days for more than 4 to 6 months with diverse ages and needs is not easy. If the youth is employed and working from home the challenge is to stay productive and keep everyone happy, but the worse challenge would for those youth who face the opposite dilemma where they have to work all day, and they are isolated from family and people. Loneliness in this situation is the highest risk of this type of youth.

In the transformation to the new normal youth could be experiencing more restricted freedom of many things they didn’t expect to happen in their lifetime, especially that most of this freedom is related to the sake of saving lives [6]. Hence it is a time that youth think about regrouping themselves. This regrouping can be about what they really want in their lives and what paths they will take.

Yes, it is a time for youth to create a new mindset, which means new assumptions, new attitudes, new habits and thus new intentions about what we type of life purposefulness youth need in this “new normal”. The ‘silver linings’ might not be clear in the beginning, especially if the world did not manage the Crisis of COVID-19 well, but surely with persistence youth would find out the importance of the mindset change. Buheji and Sisk [9, 12].

Many things would be re-oriented towards forming a new socio-economic situation that leads to lead to some stability. These youth must be ready to go through several broad economic reforms, that might affect their living wage, working practices, and their re-prioritisation of what are the essentials for life and livelihood.

If the pandemic spillovers stay for a long time, the economic insecurity and the development would be affected. It would depend a lot on the focus of the policy-makers on how to optimise the opportunities for young people.

2.4Economic future of youth

COVID-19 has brought with it stress and anxiety’ among young people. Many youths now are expected to be poorer at every stage of their life than their parents [14].

Younger generations also had to pay significantly more to support the pensions and healthcare of those approaching, or already in, older age. Financial inequality between youth and between youth generation and their previous generations are increasing [7].

Many young people in less well-off families have been disproportionately affected by both austerity policies since the banking crisis of 2007-8 and the growing gap in income.

2.5Youth mental health during COVID-19

Despite the lockdown restrictions are increasingly eased by the end of the third month from the pandemic; the same cannot be said for the pressures facing youth mental health. Some young people feel that they have nothing to live for. Around one in ten young people aged suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder (Hagell, 2012). Increasing numbers of youth suffer from severe depression. This is happening while the most vulnerable and poverty communities mental health services are operating under reduced budgets due to the focus on the disease, i.e. the COVID-19, and not its backslashes [4, 13, 14].

Social media played a great role in minimising the stress of young people in comparison to other groups. However, the worries are that the addiction would increase along with the mental health issues and domestic abuse, which will require the most substantial and pressing support during the pandemic [13]. The lockdown in New York, for example, has reportedly worsened the mental health status in this city, especially following the school closures and the limited access to the support [14].

In a recent, UK Labour Force Survey, after the COVID-19, showed that youth between the ages of 16–24 are twice as likely to work in shutdown sectors as older workers.

2.6Youth and countries differentiation in the new normal

The ‘new normal’ involves all of us; however, youth are expected more than ever the need to address the far-reaching and continuing health, economic and social crises. The new normal would change our lives and livelihood. Thus, changes in the way we work, shop, study, pray together, spend time in public and travel should be [9].

The situation of the world instability and especially in developing countries has been exacerbated in recent years by several further factors but brought them to the real unprecedented situation in recent history with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemics and its related spillovers [11].

The shock of globalisation and the upcoming trend of ‘glocalisation’, i.e. the reverse turning of many countries to be more self-dependent, the beside the gradual failure of materialistic capitalist-based solutions; created many types of distress and depression which effected the positive spirit of the youth, especially in developing countries.

2.7The importance of assessing youth future (during and after a pandemic)

There has been a significant increase in anxiety and depression among youth all over the world. Therefore, it is clearly a need for a frequent formal and informal assessment of young people status during and after any crisis similar to the latest 2018 financial crisis or as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such assessments are very important for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) and for countries competitiveness [10].

The assessment of future youth needs which can lead to putting youth future foresight can be carried through labs activities, round table conversations, selective and random interviews, global bulk survey, and global questionnaire. The outcome of these surveys and assessments can be a guideline for many of the educational experts’ strategists, teachers and mentors. The accumulated knowledge can be a source of future multidisciplinary work for international and national youth development agencies and ministries for more professionals’ support that would also include social workers, and support workers.

The other implication of this study is that it could be used for youth start-ups if more research is done in this area to confirm the outcome of this study. i.e. youth would need many apps or similar social network platforms that support their development and wellness.

2.8Youth ‘social capital’ in times of transformation

Any community that need to pass and survive it must be more resilient, healthy and start to be more profitable. With social capital, all of these can be achieved easier where the community will tend to be more self-dependent, without a balance between being inward- and forward-looking.

Therefore, ‘Social capital’ is considered the most important capital during times of crisis and transformation. The more youth are part of a network; the more their competencies would be appreciated. Through social capital, the youth can build the currency of inspiration and trust.

The basic return of social capital is that it creates interaction between people and communities. Thus people see themselves part of the social fabric that either experiencing change or going through challenges. Thus, it is very important that youth are inspired to enhance their social capital and have a strong sense of belonging along with concrete experience of the benefit of their relationships, the level of trust and tolerance they need to make.

Youth need to appreciate the importance of also bridging, bonding or linking their social capital. Where people of similar situations, or different specialities, or entirely from outside the community, can be enabled or leveraged for the benefit of the community. This can happen in times on new normal more than any other time and in an unstructured way or through civil society organisations.

2.9The kick-off the post-corona new-normal generation

The consequences of the COVID-19 and its related impact and spillovers so far shows that we are approaching a new generation that is facing a major milestone similar to the milestones of the world war one (WWI) or two, or similar to the new millennium, or inception of the internet. Thus, this generation can be named the “Coronavirus Generation” or the New Normal2 generation being the first new normal was post-WWI [7, 9].

In Buheji and Buheji [8] the researchers mentioned about the importance of understanding the conditions that are re-shaping and engulfing the mindset of the current and the coming youth generation and even affect their employability competency are. Five status builds and conditions the mindset of youth since the start of the pandemic and its related consequences: stability, instability, lockdown/emergency, fuzzy ambiguous future, and progressive growth. Thus, this is a generation that needs a mindset as per Buheji and Buheji [8], to have a mindset that starts with attitudes that can be summarised by 5Rs (React, Realise, Resolve, Reshape, Resilient). i.e. to have these ingrained in their mindset, in order to address the requirements of the coming post-COVID-19 new normal which demands characteristics that emphasis (Proactive, Preparedness, Pulling Together, Problem Solving, Publishing & Publicising) and which can be summarised as 5Ps. Table (1) shows the relation of the new normal condition with the mindset and characteristics required vs time for the maturity of when these would shape the generations beyond ‘Alpha generation’ [10, 12].

Table 1

Signs of Post-Coronoa New Normal Generation

New Normal Condition5Rs5PsAlpha GenerationPost-Corona GenerationX2 Generation
StableReactProactivex ...  . ...  
UnstableRealisePreparedxx ...  .
Lockdown/Emerg-encyResolvePulling Together ...  .x ...  .
FuzzyReshapeProblem Solver ...  .xx
Progress-ive GrowthResilientPublishing &Publicising ...  . ...  .x

Based on the review of Buheji [7] which discuss in detail about the causes of when youth generations are transformed from one generation to the other, one could confirm based on Table (1) that ‘Alpha generation’ would transform to ‘Post-Corona generation’ once instability persists for until 2021, then we will start to see the upcoming of a generation that would have a mindset of realising, resolving and reshaping the events they face and thus would have the guts and the characteristics of preparedness, pulling together in teams and problem-solving. As authors and based on the literature review this expected to stay till 2023 when the start of a new generation post- the ‘Post-Corona generation’ which we call here ‘X2 generation’. This is a generation that is expected to have the same conditions that paved the way to the previous ‘X generation’ that raised in the mid ’60s of the earlier century [7].

3Research methodology

The unprecedented global health crisis the world had to face have affected all parts of the society and changed the way people live and earn their livelihoods. In all types of crises and times of need, from climate change to armed conflict or political unrest; young people and youth-led organisations have been quick to take action and respond to the needs of others. The same is happening now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3.1Defining the scope of the paper

This research targeted youth from age (13–27 years), whether they are in schools, universities, on training, employed (full or part-time), or unemployed, etc. regardless of their background, education level, success, etc. The tentative scope of this research is to see what and how the youth see a better future, after the huge shock, challenges, lockdown, disruptions and threat which the world is gone through and still going through with the COVID-19 pandemic [5].

This research has chosen to avoid evaluating how the youth see the effect or the causes of the virus on the community. Instead, the scope focused here on motivating youth to contribute towards ‘what they see as a short- and a long-term foresight of the future as a result of the huge learning and unlearning’ from the pandemic. The questionnaire focuses on measuring the short- and long-lasting social, cultural, economic and multidimensional impacts on youth [1].

3.2Design of the questionnaire

This quantitative study was designed based on the review of the literature and authors previous reference. The questionnaire gone through piloting stage, and then tested again, after being set electronically using google forms; with a consent form appended to it. The link of the questionnaire was sent to all international experts representing the International Inspiration Economy Project (IIEP) through emails, WhatsApp and other social media. The participants were encouraged to fill the complete survey due to its ease of filling. Thus, the link was forwarded to people apart from the first point of contact and so on.

The online self-reported questionnaire was designed by researchers and developed with the cooperation of Inspiration Economy experts, then piloted with 10 of IE youth members. The survey contained 29 elements. The first part was about socio-demographic variables including age, gender, occupation, education and nationality. With two parts rated on a 5 point Likert scale ranging. First was measuring 13 elements regarding how they see the effect of COVID from strongly agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, strongly disagree. While the other Likert scale measure 5 elements, about affected and changes to their lives, from high effect, To some extent, Natural, Not at all, Don’t know.

3.3Data collection

The online self-reported questionnaire was designed by the researchers and developed with the cooperation of Inspiration Economy experts from more than 12 countries. Then the questionnaire was piloted with the Inspiration Economy youth members. Then the two main parts are focused on understanding how youth see and foresight the future after the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all those two parts are rated on a 5 point Likert scale.

This quantitative study was collected in April 2020, via an online survey was conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire using a non-probability snowball sampling technique. A total of 346 who represent from 33 countries around the world, responses were received.

The questionnaire was developed by using google forms, with a consent form appended to it. The link of the questionnaire was sent through emails, WhatsApp and other social media to the contacts of the Inspiration Economy project. The participants were encouraged to roll out the survey to as many people as possible. Thus, the link was forwarded to people apart from the first point of contact and so on.

The questionnaire was both in Arabic and English, and the data was designed to be collected in all the countries that can be reached through accessing the link of google docs.

Each research coordinator was encouraged to collect samples of the proposed questions from at least 3 to a maximum of 5 participants, before the final corrections of the questionnaire.

4Data analysis

Descriptive statistics have been used in the study to analysing the findings. Mean, and standard deviation and proportions have been used to estimate the results of the study.

4.1Demographics

Despite the difference in youth age classifications, most studies agree that starting the youth stage after the age of 13 and in which the human maturity and ability to solve problems increases, 34% of those who used the questionnaire were concentrated in the age group from 19 to 24, and which represent the targeted youth stage in the research.

Based on the age group in which the sample is concentrated, the largest group are the students who constitute 41% of the sample, followed by the employee group. According to the age group in which the sample is concentrated, 47% of them have a bachelor’s degree, and 34% of these youth have a higher degree, and this, in turn, reflects the extent of their intellectual maturity.

4.2Understanding how youth see the effects of the COVID-19 on their life

The question measures the extent of the pandemic impact on the youth’s life by answering 13 items to explore the extent of this effect on them. 39% of respondents agree that the pandemic has a negative impact on their psychological and social status, and even 22.8% more strongly agree that the COVID-19 have a great impact on them.

58% of youth see that among the negative repercussions on them during this pandemic is their lack of security, which increases their uncertainty about their future plans.

Despite the fact that the pandemic has negative repercussions, still, 41% of these youth see that this challenge is an important driver for humanity and their future development as humans.

In light of the current economic conditions that the world is going through during the period of the pandemic, about 88% of these youth agreed that the global economy would change dramatically within the next few years due to what this pandemic will leave behind.

Clearly, almost all of the participants, more than 88%, believe that the pandemic affected their social and family communication. This means they need to reinvent the way they work or come up with a new communication model. This is why the majority again, 88% believe that new policies need to be developed to ensure effective and secure mechanisms for this communication.

Despite the crises caused by the Corona crisis, we cannot overlook the positive results of this crisis on personal and global levels. The majority (56.4%) of these youth believe that new crises often bring new opportunities. 38.2% of youth believe that governments are the most responsible party for dealing with pandemic and providing effective solutions.

More 85% of the participating youth believe they should find their own way to fight the pandemic related issues, and they believe this can be achieved by the positive ‘social environment’.

Surprisingly the majority (33.5%) of youth are not sure whether really the digital environment would really prevent the spread of health crises, in light of the suffering of the world today with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost all (96%) the participants believe of taking more precautions for personal health and hygiene and the same percentage believe that also the psychological effects need to be analysed in-depth to give new advice on how to behave in similar cases and thus how much we need to be resilient as a community.

Figure (1) can be summarised that youth see that despite COVID-19 pandemic have a risk on their mental health, it is surely a source for opportunity and motivation. The pandemic increases youth uncertainty about their future socio-economic status, and youth believe that government have a great role in mitigating the risk of the pandemic.

Fig. 1

Represent How Youth See the Effect of Pandemic on their Life.

Represent How Youth See the Effect of Pandemic on their Life.

4.3Understanding in what way COVID-19 has affected & changed their life as a youth

The effect of the pandemic on changing the youth’s life was measured by 5 items. A large number of the research sample agreed on the impact of this pandemic on the way of thinking and visualising life, with 41.9% answering that there is a relative impact and 38.2% that the impact of the pandemic on their way of thinking and their perception of life is significant. The majority (70%) see that the pandemic also affected a lot their life purposefulness and the importance of the existence of a goal in their life and thus their readiness to other crises.

Perhaps one of the most important things that the pandemic did, as per the 85% of these youth is that it made them appreciate how the world is small and how much we need to be resilient since we are living in a small world, despite our different backgrounds as societies and economies.

4.4Understanding how much the pandemic shaped their vision as youth toward the future and what they foresight in 10 years

Majority of the youth in this study, i.e. (27% and 23%) believe that they would still focus on education and technology even after two years from this pandemic outbreak, taking into consideration also the importance of sustainable development.

Again to see how youth see their future, they are asked to visualise how the world is in ten years from the pandemic. The majority (29% and 22%) believe that the world would totally different and frightening with a higher tendency to glocalisation, i.e. more separated and isolated countries and nations.

4.5Believing in the importance of change and teaching youth the pandemic history, solutions and results

The study shows the importance of how young people must take drastic measures in order to inspire the world in order to change it for the better in times of crisis and overcome them; therefore 42% of youth agrees that the world will continue to be the same if young people do not take clear measures to inspire the world.

Therefore, 98% of the respondents supported the necessity of sharing the knowledge and accumulated experiences from the COVID-19 to future pandemics so that they are better equipped with how to manage the next one.

4.6Visualising the solutions suitable for a better world, including how to mitigate the risk on poor communities

Majority of the youth in this study (33% and 21%) believe that solidarity among young people in all countries will create the necessary impact for a better world, then followed by adopting values of life.

45% of the participating youth see the poor communities would be amongst the most who would suffer, as the virus will lead to more deaths due to a lack of proper health system, besides the difficulty and the limited awareness of social distancing and isolation.

4.7Correlations analysis between youth and their reaction to COVID-19 effects variables

The study found that there is a positive correlation between age and the participants’ perception on the impact of the pandemic on the youths psychological and social condition, besides their feeling of instability and insecurity in relevance to their future plans, as represented in Table (2). Also, the study shows that there is a positive correlation between age and the belief that the pandemic challenge is important motivators for humanity.

There is a weak positive correlation coefficient between age and the ‘proposed solutions for a better world’, as shown in Table (3),. i.e. all the youth group ages see the same about the need for a better world. We note that the age group between 19–24 years believes that the union and solidarity between young people in the world would bring a better solution for a better world.

Table 2

Correlation between (age) and the Main Variables of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the life of the Young People

AgeCOVID-19 affects negatively on my psychological & social statusFeel unstable and unsecured with my future plans because of the COVID-19Think that a challenge like COVID-19, is a great growth driver for humans
Pearson Correlation.224**.229**.147**-
Sig. (2-tailed).000.000.006
N346346346
Table 3

Correlation between (age) and the Main Variable of the ‘Solutions for a Better World post the COVID-19 Pandemic’

AgeWhat solutions do you see for a better world?
Pearson Correlation.115*
Sig. (2-tailed).032
N346

There is a weak negative correlation relationship between the type of gender and the ‘feelings of instability in future plans due to the Corona pandemic’, as shown in Table (4). However, there are a number of females who do not feel the impact of their future plans due to the Corona pandemic.

Table 4

Correlation between (age) and the Variable of the ‘Uncertainty of post the COVID-19 Pandemic Future Plans’

Sexfeeling unstable and unsecured with my future plans because of the COVID-19
Pearson Correlation–.144**
Sig. (2-tailed).007
N346

In another analysis, we can see a correlation between the world regions and ’relying on governments to solve the problems caused by Coronavirus’, as shown in Table (5). We find that there is a weak positive relationship between the Middle East and North Africa region and agreeing to rely on governments to solve Corona’s pandemic problems, because maybe these are government-dependent cultures.

Table 5

Correlation between (region) and the Variable of the ‘Dependence on the Government to bring Solution to COVID-19 Pandemic’

RegionGovernments are the main force responsible to solve the problems caused by COVID-19 and should offer solutions.
Pearson Correlation.253**
Sig. (2-tailed).000
N346

The last correlation we present here is the correlation between the view of the need to develop new policies and mechanisms for security and social and personal communication due to the Corona pandemic’ and the region, as shown in Table (6). We find that there is a weak positive relationship between the Middle East and North Africa region and agreeing to the need to develop communication policies and mechanisms.

Table 6

Correlation between (age) and the Variable of the ‘Belief for developing policies to enhance communication post the pandemic’

RegionWe have to develop new policies for social and personal communications because of the world COVID-19 experience
Pearson Correlation.170**
Sig. (2-tailed).002
N346

Figure (2) shows that the majority of youth believe that the pandemic affected their mindset, and how they see their role in life, i.e. their life purposefulness. The pandemic also enhanced their readiness and their perception of how small the world is, thus their need to be more resilient.

Fig. 2

Represent What the Pandemic Specifically Effected in Youth.

Represent What the Pandemic Specifically Effected in Youth.

5Discussion

5.1Effect of COVID-19 pandemic in shaping the youth current and future foresight

The COVID-19 pandemic for sure is going to shape the coming generation, and it would have a long-lasting impact in generations to come. This global research helped to measure the perceptions of youth and how they foresight the future during the Crisis of COVID-19. The findings from 346 participants from 33 countries where the majority (34%) was between 19–24 years old and the majority of them (47%) were undergraduate students, plus (34%) of these youth are postgraduate students.

The research shows that despite the majority of the participating youth who come from the Middle East and Africa seems to be positive about the pandemic; however, they do not feel secure about the future uncertainty. This feeling of uncertainty even more worrying, since it is available amongst not students only, but also more among young employees, entrepreneurs and self-employed [13].

5.2Youth and how they see hope in the new normal

The study targets to raise the capacity and hope about the new perspectives and the potential opportunities of young people life and livelihood, during the new normal, i.e. in the post-COVID-19. As with hope, youth energy and spirit can be inspired, and this would optimise a ‘youth economy’.

Hope and curiosity, are very related; thus, the study also tries to see what areas of curiosity are missing and need to be addressed by education and other capacity building modules.

Hope would give youth the chance to view and generate routes to what they want through being able to generate a variety of pathways. When youth become hopeful, they start in believing in themselves and what difference they could make. With this belief, happiness is more guaranteed, and youth would be more accountable to their socio-economic challenges and communities needs. This youth belief builds integrity and critical engagement which foster readiness for the ‘new normal’ and later flourishment.

John Maquarrie (1978) mentioned that hope an ‘emotion’ or a ‘choice’ or ‘intention’, which consists of an outgoing and trusting mood toward the environment we are living in. Therefore, with this hope, youth can take the risk and manage the challenges in the environment around them today and in the future. This type of emotion, or intention, would enhance young people capacity to deal with the rising level of uncertainty.

5.3‘IIEP global research on youth’- a foresight of the future of post-COVID-19 era

Despite the questions of this global study investigate how the responding young generation see the dangers of the current ‘unprecedented time’ with high uncertainty; these youth found to be, in the same time, often more positive and confident to pass the new normal stage. This positivity is unique in their feedback, as it stays regardless of the difficulties and the challenges they could go through in the future. This gives us two possible perspectives: either the participating youth are highly self-confident, and they can visualise their role in this challenging time, or they do not appreciate the total picture of the new normal and the risks of this era along with the new requirements for life and livelihood.

The other issue noted from the outcome of this study is that youth appreciates how much they need to be resilient and where many of their previous assumptions and mindset need to be changed. This change in the mindset means change in attitudes, which coincides with a previous study published recently by Buheji and Buheji [8] about the employability competency.

The summary of this IIEP global study shows, as per Fig. (3), that 49.4% of the young respondents see the world economy will change dramatically in a few years because of the COVID-19. While 44.5% see positive ‘social environment’ is the main force of protecting people from the negative effects of COVID-19. Besides, 56.4% of these youth see that new crises bring new opportunities, and thus it is better to stay positive to discover these opportunities. This gives a good silver-lining for researchers, educational development experts, government strategists to exploit this intrinsic youth-positive power to the benefit of reviving the socio-economic status in the new normal. This silver-lining is important since the study shows that 59.5% of these youth appreciate how much they need to be resilient as a community, in order to pass this pandemic.

Fig. 3

IIEP Youth Foresight of Future Post-COVID-19.

IIEP Youth Foresight of Future Post-COVID-19.

5.4The need for inter-generational dialogue

As we enter a new normal, an intergenerational dialogue between the youth and other generation is very important.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced most governments around the world to temporarily close educational institutions and any other productivity centres to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of the pandemic, more than 1.5 billion learners, or over 90% of the world’s student population from pre-primary to higher education, have seen their education disrupted and at times interrupted. Besides, many youths working on unstable part-time or as gig economy entrepreneurs are now living with no income or known future. This would increase the possibility of youth in NEET, i.e. not employed, not in education, and not in training, as Buheji [2] has predicted.

Based on Buheji [7] the following Table (7) represents a summary of the generations from 1890 till 2025. The last two rows in the table here propose the uprise and the development of new generations due to the COVID-19 pandemic influence that triggered a change in youth mindset. This study would open a new line of research for studying the characteristics of the future generation based on the pandemic. As authors, we believe that this global study is only the kick-off for many similar global youth post-COVID-19 surveys that are expected to come and which are highly needed to fill the gap in this transformation times. At this unique moment of time, it is highly recommended that a ‘deep-dialogue’ starts between all the current existing generations from now in every country and community to establish a solid basis for the new normal. This deep-dialogue can be reflected on by capitalising, or using the silver-lining that this study shows for youth capacity at this critical moment of time. The depth of the dialogue can be enhanced by having common projects that would enhance the communication and the expectation of the existing generations where values-driven generation, as shown in Table (7), would need to appreciate the efforts of empowering both the people the organisation generation, and where ‘scalable agility’ would capitalise on the ‘scalable adaptability and efficiency’ generation.

Table 7

Generations from Lost Generation till the Proposed last two ‘Post-Corona Generation’

Type of EraGeneration NameBirths StartBirths End
Era of EmpoweringLost Gerneration18901915
  Corporations (ScalableInterbellum Gerneration19011913
  Efficiency) DoingSilent Gerneration19251945
  things RightBaby Boomer Gerneration19461964
Gerneration X19651979
Era of Empowering PeopleXennials Gerneration19751985
  (Scalable Adaptability)Y Gerneration-“The Millennials”19801994
  Doing the Right Things
Era of Life ValuesZ Gerneration19952012
  (Scalable Agility) OptimisingAlpha Gerneration20132025
  Values-drivenPost-Corona Gerneration20202025
  OpportunitiesGerneration X220252030

5.5Youth managing transformation ‘between digital solutions and reality’

While all youth turning to be totally dependent on digital technologies to bring life solutions, or follow news and even to build their learning; the existing reality and especially during new normal would need to be approached through sweating in the field. Again, if we go back to Fig. (1), we will see that this now more realised and accepted by the post-COVID-19 young generation, i.e. these young generation knows more that life and livelihood in the new normal are not highly dependent on digital technology and that countries and communities need to prepared for being more ‘self-dependent’ and ‘self-sufficient’.

For example, the world cannot improve the projects of self-sufficiency (SF) of the communities if the youth stayed only online. In times of survival, it is not enough if the communities are connected with the whole world on online-only, but rather they need to bring their own livelihood products. This supports a previous study on SF importance today after the pandemic which youth could play a great role in [3].

To respond to such challenges, there is a clear need for youth-led networks who would be working around issues of different connectivity as low-tech approaches, i.e. using community radio to encourage all youth in the rural areas to collaborate with those of the urban cities.

5.6Youth living the uncertainty

We know now that the influence of COVID-19 pandemic has threatened and still causes a risk for all areas of life. This fact affects the young generation perspectives of the future and increases their uncertainty. For those in high school, or graduating from the university, their fear and uncertainty increase as they cannot see what they should do next. Besides, many governments cannot give today an appropriate plan for these youth of ‘what to do next’, especially the main ministries such as the departments of education, or labour, or youth development. Even those in school, they started to see the prospect of a decent education is now under high risk since many educational institutions are under the risk of permanent closure, with some having already announced plans to limit spending and cut staff.

The probability of the uncertainty is expected to increase in the graduating youth where the virus has impacted their speciality industry, such as the hospitality or the aviation industry. In addition, the trend of the pay freeze, or the slim promotion, or the reduced earnings, are all creating more stress, and increasing the youth uncertainty about the future.

Today, millions of young people are uncertain about their level of opportunities and without any clear social security, and with no proper incentives in most of the industries. To protect their social mobility, the government should provide attractive loans or support schemes that will enable youth to plan for the future and guarantee adequate funding for both current and future prospective.

5.5Role of governments towards youth in the new normal

The variation of answers observed, in relevance to the regions of the world, which are relevant to the questions of whether COVID-19 pandemic in this study could bring new opportunities for youth in the future. The results show that governments, especially in South Asia and Africa, need to build the competencies of problem-solving, and preparedness, as discussed earlier and that came in the study of Buheji and Buheji [8]. Youth knowledge and psychological needs to be exploited more by governments more than ever to see the ‘silver-lining’ that come from youth based on this crisis. Otherwise, the world might go through a recession, or even economic depression for a long time without benefiting from the feelings and the experience of youth.

6Conclusion

Efforts to mitigate the short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic require an unprecedented level of collaboration. Young people should be able to actively participate in shaping responses, which need to be meaningfully included in all aspects and phases of the response plans across all sectors that utilise or address youth needs.

6.1New normal ‘youth communication model’

Based on the outcome of the assessment done by the researchers of this paper and the results of the global survey outcome presented in section 4. Youth need a new communication model that reduces their worrying about the current sources of happiness, i.e. shift the focus from ‘consumption and branding’ and to the focus on ‘economic ends’.

The communication model needs to bring in more mentors to be in relation with youth, to connect with them and inspire their way of thinking, feelings and experiences. For any successful new normal communication model, it should prevent youth from addressing the wrong questions, and should not be forced for specific ‘solutions’.

Youth in the new normal should be more encouraged to avoid quick fixes that prevent them from discovering their real feelings and experiences. The emotions for the ‘post-Coronoa generation’ for the first coming changes may well be troubling and painful, but it might be the solution for uplifting and liberating them from the chains of the past.

The purpose of developing the communication model is to give youth the space to explore, connect and be equipped more for sudden changes. This communication model is supposed to give them ideas and examples to start to explore the new normal era with. Finding a balance in times of uncertainty is not easy, but the frequency of ‘learning by doing’ and the passionate attempts along with the proper communication with the right stakeholders would foster the proper environment for the needed successful transformations in the new normal.

Figure (4) shows a proposed communication model as an outcome of the global study questionnaire and the literature review. The communication model is meant to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic influence on ‘youth current and future foresight’ using the positive characteristics of youth hope in the ‘new normal’. The model focus on the ‘youth development stakeholders’ to generate a variety of pathways to minimise the ‘youth uncertainty’.

Fig. 4

Communication Model for Optimising Youth Readiness and Influence in the New Normal.

Communication Model for Optimising Youth Readiness and Influence in the New Normal.

The communication model excites youth-led networks to empower communities and organisations through projects that create ‘deep-dialogue’ flows. The dialogue should help to bring more ‘resilient-driven youth’ and helps to integrate the ‘values-driven’ generations shown in Table (7) that focus on ‘scalable agility’ with other generations. This means that ‘scalable adaptability’ driven generation that focuses on ‘life’ could create with ‘scalable efficiency’ driven generation, which focuses on ‘livelihood’ a comprehensive communication-model that supports the values-driven generation. The integration of all these generations could help in an effective agile transformation that utilises digital-solutions while addressing the reality of the challenges in the new normal.

6.2An Opportunity for early maturity of ‘post-corona generation’

The idea of the communication model is to build youth early maturity for the requirements and the conditions of the moment. This is a generation under test, where they are the pioneers that would discover the ‘best practices’ of the new normal, based on the ‘test practice’.

They know they need to be ready for this journey to avoid missing to address the ‘Generation Defining Moment’, i.e. the moment where if they as a youth generation do badly, the next two to three generations might be affected from the consequences of this failure. Hence, this a generation that are taking gradually early heavy responsibilities, as shown in Table (1) till Table (7). This would give such generation a great maturity and readiness for creating the necessary change that is being awaited by humanity for the next leap [17].

6.3Implications of this study

The assessment of youth future-needs that could lead to precise youth future foresight can be carried through variety yet comprehensive approaches as life labs activities, round-table conversations, selective and random interviews, global bulk-surveys, and series of global questionnaires. The outcome of these surveys and assessments can build a guideline for the future youth capacity that could be built by many educational experts’ strategists, teachers and mentors. The accumulated knowledge that would come from this and other coming studies in this line, could be a source of future multidisciplinary work for both international and national youth development agencies where they could specify the type of professionals’ support that would be needed during this generation development and healing.

If more research is done in this area to confirm the outcome of this study, it could be used for youth start-ups, i.e. youth could use it for starting business models that fill their own development needs to fill the gap towards meeting the requirements of the era they would be living in. These start-ups could be in many forms as apps or similar social network platforms that support their development and wellness, or products, or services that satisfy the new normal generation needs.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to appreciate the support for the data collection from the International Inspiration Economy Partners from all over the world, with specific thanks to: Prof Ana Vovk (Slovenia), Dr Nikolay Perepelkin (Russia), Prof Asm Shehabudden (Bangladesh), Prof Mohamed Al-Hamdani (Algeria), Prof Farid Al-Sahan (Qatar), Dr Ramiz Zekaj (Albania), Dr Ali Ebrahim (Sudan), Dr Sadeq Alalawi (Bahrain), Dr Zarilbek)Kyrgyzstan(, Dr Elhadi Almuneer (Mauritania), Zanat)Kazakhstan(, Chet Sisk (USA), Paul Kikoty (India), Godfred Beka (Ghana)

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