It’s official; the UK is the most attractive country for young people across the G20, according to the latest survey from Ipsos, the research specialists. The British Council asked Ipsos to conduct the research that surveyed 20,616 people across the G20 countries, aged 18-24 years old, in September and October 2021.
The results showed that not only did the UK ranking in G20 nations continue to remain strong, but that overall, the country’s attractiveness has increased. But why is the UK so attractive to young people?
The British Council’s survey
For the fourth time since 2016, the British Council wanted to get an insight into what young people thought about the UK, why it is so attractive to them and the level of trustworthiness of the G20 countries. Following the survey of over 20,000 people across 19 of the G20 countries, the UK pipped Canada to the top spot.
The highest UK ranking in G20 nations was led predominantly by ‘trust in institutions’; that being, our education system is considered the best of the G20 countries. Other metrics used in the survey include trust in people and trust in government. In 2016, the UK’s overall ranking was 71%; in this poll, it has increased to 74% despite Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The benefit is that the attractiveness and trust perceptions noted in the research indicate that from those that trust the UK, they are nearly twice as likely to do business and trade with the UK. This makes it much easier for UK companies to agree on trade deals and develop international alliances that help them to handle and overcome global challenges, such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
But why are young people attracted to the UK? Well, according to the British Council’s survey, young people rate the UK as the most attractive country across the G20 because of its quality in educational institutions and because it promotes a global environment.
The UK’s cities, education system as well as the arts and culture scene are leading reasons for the country’s attractiveness. This is backed up by our countryside and landscapes and our people. The English language is in demand, as are sports, and the UK’s capital – London – is seen as one of the most attractive cities in the world.
The coming together of all of these strengths demonstrates the level of soft power the UK has right now. But to maximise the opportunity of topping the list, it’s important the UK as a country continues to invest in, support and nurture the areas the research has highlighted as key contributors to the title of ‘most attractive country for young people’.
Steps to enhancing the UK ranking in G20 nations
There are six key areas on which the UK must build in order to enhance its international profile, according to the British Council. These are:
1. Capitalise on its strengths – the report has identified key strength areas for the UK – cities, arts, history, education, culture, historical attractions, countryside and landscape – and it’s important that the country as a whole places these strengths at the centre of how we, as a country, engage with other global countries.
2. Investment and support – much has been invested in these key areas, not just financial but also in manpower. The UK’s strengths are a large part of its attractiveness on a global scale, and the investment and support across all areas must continue.
3. The important role of the UK’s art and culture in international attractiveness – the art and culture sector played a major role in recognising the UK ranking in G20 nations. But to continue to attract international talent and global collaboration, it’s important to continue to build on this in order to maintain and expand the UK’s excellence in this sector going forward.
4. Recognise the UK’s weaknesses and work towards addressing them – as does every country in the world, the UK also has its weaknesses. For example, there are mixed perceptions about the UK’s infrastructure, its science and technology sector and even its people in some areas. It’s important the nation as a whole identifies and recognises these weaknesses, as well as analyse and consider what steps can be taken to turn them into strengths.
5. It’s a family affair; let the nation do the talking – it’s not always the Government’s role to drive international attractiveness. The UK’s soft power comes from and is backed up by the amazing people who work in these key sectors. It’s as much their contribution and their actions in art and countryside, in sports and education, across our national history and our culture that garners attractiveness. It’s these people that embody and exemplify the UK.
6. Encourage and develop UK ambassadors – much like the drive for everyone in the UK to get involved in driving international attractiveness, it’s also important that, as a nation, we encourage and develop UK brand ambassadors. Ensure they understand the why and how of building other nations’ positive perceptions about the UK and its people. Give them the tools to develop their skills and teach them how to engage effectively internationally, on every level and across every sector, for a better, brighter future.
As a nation, we’ve proved that on an attractiveness level, young people across the G20 nations rank the UK highly. Now comes the hard part; backing up that trust in the UK and developing it for the future.
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