LIFE contains many challenges for young people.
Sometimes it seems to me that they are facing problems whichever way they turn.
It is certainly the case that they are under emotional pressure as never before and the increase in child and adolescent mental health problems is a very worrying trend, placing additional demands on already inadequate services as parents, schools and GPs try to do their best for vulnerable young people in their care.
Young people can often feel themselves to be facing a barrage of different concerns.
Reforms have toughened up the exam system, which now focuses on terminal examinations, with more course content and increased difficulty.
Tuition fees have been much in the news with a Government regime that leaves many students facing more than £50,000 of debt by the time they have completed a degree.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the differential in graduate salaries is by no means what it used to be.
Other young people are stuck in a low-wage, zero-hours culture, where they are financially vulnerable.
As they are not eligible for housing support, sofa-surfing and ‘hidden homelessness’ are on the increase.
For those without the support of families, things can be very tough indeed.
Even for those with good jobs, the prospect of home ownership is increasingly elusive and living at home until their 30s is becoming more and more the norm.
It strikes me that we are missing some very important tricks here.
Investing in our future generations is so important if we are going to thrive as a country.
It is so important they are supported to be the best they can be – they must feel they have a stake in their futures and the opportunity to shape their own destinies.
In the last General Election, young people engaged with politics in a way that has not been seen before.
They registered to vote in droves in the last weeks before the poll took place in order to have their say.
Surely it is time to take a leaf out of Scotland’s book in the independence referendum and enable them to vote at 16?
I am passionate about opportunities for young people and that is why I will be visiting schools, colleges and sixth forms across my constituency in the coming months to listen to young people themselves and learning about their priorities.
I also attended the Schools Funding Lobby in Westminster on Tuesday of this week.
I believe that in life, we ‘get what we pay for’, and without adequate investment in it we can’t have a fit for purpose education system that does our young people proud.