Young people research says education of vital importance for further devolution in Wales

Education is of fundamental importance when it comes to the current devolution settlement and the prospect of further devolution amongst young people in Wales according to a new report released today by Our Future- an organisation examining the future of the constitution on behalf of young people.

The report, “Young People, Employment and Devolution in Wales”, commissioned young academics in Wales by Our Future to explore the attitudes of students and young professionals prospects in the fields of media and law and what impact could enhancing their devolution have on their university and career choices.

Our Future is a project led and developed by young people focusing on engaging young people and young professionals in Wales and the UK in the constitutional debates in those countries, and is an integral part of the wider UK’s Changing Union project.

The report highlights several areas of concern in relation to young people’s concerns with devolution of the media. The report says:

  • In order to achieve better plurality and more accurate coverage of devolution in Wales and the UK, journalism students need to be taught to cover devolution and devolved politics accurately.
  • The asymmetrical nature of UK devolution makes covering devolution accurately very challenging for young journalists.

In addition, the report also highlights areas of concern in relation to young people’s concerns with further devolution in the field of law. The report says:

  • Concerns were expressed that there is not enough emphasis presently placed on understanding Welsh devolution, and these concerns shouldn’t be dismissed lightly
  • Worries were raised that the lack of emphasis on Welsh devolution may be affecting the quality of legal services in Wales
  • That in the event of any further devolution, Welsh legal education needs to balance the need to provide further Welsh-specific training with the advantages of the current law degree that enables graduates to practice in both Wales and England.

The report also found in terms of general attitudes to devolution a difference between young people in the two different fields studied. The report says for those working in and studying in the field of media:

“…issue of attitudes towards future devolution, it appears that such reform would receive a positive response among those studying or working in the media. The broadcasting research paper found a majority of interviewees welcoming the prospect of the devolution of broadcasting. In particular, there appears to be a belief that devolution would create greater opportunities for young journalists, both students and professionals, in Wales.”

Whilst for those working and studying in the field of law in Wales, the report notes a more cautious approach to the extension of devolution:

“The picture, as the comments regarding educational safeguards outlined perhaps suggest, is less positive for supporters of a Welsh legal jurisdiction. As the paper notes, the fact that there was such little consistency among respondents to that research paper may “be indicative of real uncertainty in store for the academic and practical legal professions in the event of further devolution.”

Our Future member, and co-editor of the report, Adam Evans commented,

“It’s clear from the research that young people working and studying in the fields of media and the law in Wales require significant reassurances and safeguards before any further devolution, and particular consideration needs to be given to education. It’s clear from the research undertaken here that young people are not against devolution, they’re just not sure.”

“Whilst this research only offers a snapshot of the attitudes of young people and young professionals in Wales towards devolution in their respective fields, the findings should offer much food for thought for policy makers in Wales, especially with successive polling showing that devolution is now the settled will of the Welsh people.”

The full response can be viewed here Young People, Employment and Devolution Final Jan 2014