The future young people in the labour market and in their leisure time

Marianne Levinsen, M.Sc. Political Science, futurist / 18. dec 2008

The future employees will consist of two types of persons: the free mercurial persons and the stabile traditionalists. The free mercurial persons constantly seek challenges and changes. They are good at switching roles and personalities in accordance with the situation. They are mobile and flexible, but they require new challenges and development all the time, otherwise they will not stay. The stabile traditionalists want a good job with opportunities. They do not want the world to change constantly. The job is important, but family, a home and children are at least equally important. As long as there are good opportunities and offers on the job, there is no reason to find a new one. We need both types of employees in the businesses. The challenge of the businesses is to recruit both types of employees and not least be able to offer both types of work assignments, conditions and challenges, which match their wishes and needs. What is good for one type of personality may not necessarily be attractive for the other.

We have identified these two types of personalities in our examination of young people. One group of young people changes between two to three roles, and readily between five to six roles. Each role has an identity and often a special language attached. The young person chooses a role depending on the situation and the persons they are with. Michael has several identities and stages himself depending on whether he is with his parents, a school friend, a colleague or someone he parties with. The other group of young persons express that they are always the same person. Sophie has a certain way of acting and perceiving herself. She is the same person regardless of whether she is with family, friends, her boyfriend or school friends. The persons in this group want a good job and not least a family, a home and friends, and they seek the good framework with challenges. All young persons express that they want a good job and a family. A group of young people are planning their job, family and expectations in respect of homes and cars. This group of young people typically attend technical schools, business schools etc. Read Jannie’s plans for the future: “In the future I will have two kids, live with my boyfriend, live in a house a little outside of town, but not to far out in the country … I will have a drivers license … a Mazda 5 to be specific … I will have a son aged 5-6 and a daughter aged 1, maybe 2 … That is the dream I have … I have come far in my career … and I am about to record some exercises for a theatre play … those are my future plans/dreams …”

The other group is not so busy. They have just started having fun and have no plans regarding job and family. They want to travel first, then study and get a job, possibly in another country and then start a family sometime after that. This group of young people typically attends high schools. All young people have the same conception of family, friends etc. and in many areas they are very much alike.


Young people between 15 and 19 years think that their family is the most important thing in their lives and they all feel that their parents have time to listen to them and help them, if they need it. The young people have their own rooms and a private life at home, and they most often do not get allowances because most of them have an after-school job. Emil says: “I think my family is more important than my friends, because you cannot cope without your family … but friends come right after family.”

Friends and boyfriends/girlfriends

Friends are very important. Young people have several layers of friends. They have between 3-8 close friends, who they know from school, sports and other leisure time activities. They are the ones they can talk to about all their problems, even difficult ones. They are in contact with their close friends every day. Further, they have 30 to 50 good friends who they know from school, sports or leisure time activities and work. They are regularly in contact with this group of friends, hang out with them and go to parties with them. Finally, each young person has between 50 and 100 acquaintances, with who they are in contact once in a while. Each young person has a big and widespread social network, which is not only found in the neighbourhood. Most young people have friends and acquaintances in other cities and parts of the country. The mobile phone and MSN makes geography less important. Many of the young people have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but the boyfriend/girlfriend rarely comes first and often lives some distance away from the young person.

Mobile phones and MSN

When young people go online they use MSN. They are not interested in chat rooms and know about the risks online. They do not use webcam and do not find it important to see each other, because “we already know each other”.

The mobile phone is the most important device for a young person. They all have mobile phones and use them to send text messages. They are not interested in picture messages, ringing tones and video recordings. They use the mobile phone to send messages in order to make quick arrangements, i.e. to go to the movies or go to a party together, often a little later that same day. Long meaningful conversations do not take place via text messages. Young people send between 20 and 150 messages a day and receive approximately the same. Weekdays are filled with school, after-school jobs, sports or other leisure time activities all day and the leisure time is usually the same on the weekends. In their leisure time most young people are busy with work, friends and parties. Young people feel that their weekdays are very busy with school, work and friends/boyfriend/girlfriend and say that they most of all want to “relax and do nothing at all”. Those are some of the results of a study of young people conducted by Fremforsk. Anne Sophie Valbjørn, student of social sciences, has interviewed 52 students from elementary schools, high schools, technical schools, business schools and technical A-Level colleges. The students come from Aalborg, Aarhus, Slagelse and the Greater Copenhagen area. The students have told Anne Sophie Valbjørn what they do, about languages and roles, their relationship with family, friends and boyfriends/girlfriends, the use of the internet, msn and mobile phones, their well-being and their future plans. Anne Sophie Valbjørn has interviewed these young people from October 2005 until May 2006.

Published here, 2008

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