Surrey youth are just as passionate about their city as adults and have worthwhile opinions, but need more support to have successful futures in the city.
The view comes from a recently released Surrey Youth Vital Signs 2015 report by SurreyCares Community Foundation.
The report is the second Vital Signs report, this time combining research with a poll of 400 young people aged 12 to 24.
Just over half of the respondents said they’re satisfied or very satisfied living in Surrey, but some said improvements in safety, transit, mental wellness, education and employment are needed.
The youth listed the arts scene as one of Surrey’s greatest assets. While pleased with the festivals, events and classes available, they indicated they’d like events to cost less and that there be more youth-focussed events and more public entertainment in general.
Culture, identity and belonging also topped young people’s list of Surrey’s strong points, with lots of events promoting cultural awareness and many organizations supporting various communities in the city.
Still, the young people gave a C grade to education, with 31 per cent saying more funding was needed for post-secondary education, and a quarter of respondents indicating they’d like smaller class sizes and more emphasis on life-skills training in school.
“I have not been provided with the education I need to excel in interviews and find jobs that are in need. Please change this!” said one respondent.
Youth were, however, pleased with the online learning options available and library programs.
A significant portion of respondents (38 per cent) said there needed to be more teen-friendly employers in Surrey and more job opportunities for young people. A third said current high school trade skills programs should be celebrated.
Transit was a hot topic for youth, with about 30 per cent wanting lower transit fares and late-night bus and SkyTrain service.
“Youths’ pride in our growing and changing city is encouraging,” said Jeff Hector, chair of the Board of Directors for SurreyCares. “Their interest in a smoother transition to adulthood by better access to transit, education, employment, housing and engagement will help Surrey families, businesses and organizations to work together to enhance their futures.”
The study notes that except for Vancouver, Surrey has more children and youth than any city in B.C. It is also home to 22 per cent of the youths in the Metro Vancouver region.
Thirty-two per cent of the study’s respondents said they planned to stay in Surrey for the next five years.
The Vital Signs research is meant to ascertain where Surrey is doing well and where it can improve. The full report is available here
The report made 10 recommendations to make Surrey more youth friendly:
• Hire a young person
• Mentor a young person
•Give youth a voice, and listen
•Promote youths as leaders
• Recognize youth was the source of solutions
• Rent to a youth
• Pay a living wage to young workers
• Donate and provide supports youth need
• Volunteer for a youth agency
• Recognize youth as future adults