New survey reveals the diversity of Canada’s Millennial generation through their social values

A new national survey released by the Environics Institute for Survey Research reveals a bold portrait of Canada’s Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995), that for the first time presents the social values of this generation, and the distinct segments that help make sense of the different and often contradictory stereotypes that so frequently are applied to today’s young adults.

The study was conducted in partnership with CERIC’s funder The Counselling Foundation of Canada, along with RBC, the McConnell Family Foundation and Apathy is Boring. Keith Neuman, the Executive Director of the Environics Institute,  also provided an advanced look at the survey findings during last month’s Cannexus17 National Career Development Conference.

Survey results show that Millennials cannot be lumped into a single group defined by their age, or by other demographic characteristics such as gender, region or socio-economic status. They are a diverse part of the Canadian society, made up of six social values “tribes,” each reflecting a distinct worldview and approach to life. While Millennials may share some common experiences and aspirations as befits their stage in life, there are notable differences in outlook and life path across these tribes, be they “Engaged Idealists,” “Bros and Brittanys,” or “Lone Wolves.”

The study built on the foundation of Environics’ Research leading-edge social values research to better understand how Millennials are taking their place in society through the lens of their social values, with a focus on their life goals and what it means to be an adult, career aspirations and work experience, and political and social engagement.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Fewer than half of Canadian Millennials say they have enough money to live the kind of life they want, and many feel they are not doing as well as their parents did in their youth. But this generation is notably optimistic about their future financial prospects, and this is most evident among those born outside Canada, and those with Asian or other non-white ethnic backgrounds.
  • What Millennials most want out of work and career is a good balance between work and their personal life, followed by financial security, wealth generation, and flexibility on the job. Making an important contribution to society is of strong importance to some Millennials and not so much to others, based on their social values.
  • Millennials with a post-secondary degree were asked, if they could do it over again, what would they would do. Just under half say they would have completed the same post-secondary education. But a slightly higher proportion indicate they would have followed a different path, either pursuing a different type of post-secondary education or done something else instead of getting a degree.

The survey is based on interviews conducted online with a representative sample of 2,072 Canadians aged 21 to 36 across the country between July 6 and August 31, 2016. The sample was stratified by age, gender and region.

Please visit The Counselling Foundation of Canada website for more information on this survey.