How do young people really feel about their financial futures?

Financial Literacy Month 2020:
How do young people really feel about their financial futures?

Students celebrating financial literacy month

To celebrate Financial Literacy Month 2020 this November, JA Central Ontario asked our students and alumni how they feel about the future of finance and business.


At JA Central Ontario, we’re passionate about helping young people develop the skills they need to thrive in a changing economy.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Financial Literacy Month (FLM) this November, we reached out to our current and past students to find out how they feel about their financial futures. The full economic and social impact of COVID-19 may not be known for years to come – but we wanted to know how our savvy students feel as they get ready to enter the world of work.

The results show that students are in equal parts excited and uncertain about their futures. They see possibilities ahead, but many are unsure about how the fallout from the pandemic will affect their future goals. Respondents are clear that soft skills such as creative thinking and problem solving are key for future success.

JA Central Ontario’s online programming speaks directly to the challenges and opportunities highlighted by our students. Our financial literacy programs teach key practical skills such as saving and investing, and give students the confidence to use these skills in the real world. Our focus on work readiness and entrepreneurship gives students the creative thinking, communication and entrepreneurial skills to adapt to an ever-changing economic landscape.
Key findings

COVID-19 has influenced me to want to find a job faster and become more financially independent.

Survey Respondent

An uncertain future

Almost 60% of our students agree that COVID-19 has affected their future financial goals and career plans. 28% of respondents are uncertain they will be financially successful in future, and 14% are scared of future prospects. However, 24% of students are confident they will be able to succeed in future.

Many respondents state that before the pandemic they had created a plan to reach their financial and career goals. However, as a result of COVID-19, many report being unable to find part-time work to supplement their studies and begin this journey. Many respondents also stated that COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of saving and financial planning, and that the pandemic has spurred them on to become financially independent.

Students learning about financial literacy

When asked what the world of work is like for young people, students gave mixed responses. 27% of respondents believe the future of work is uncertain, but 24% see this as a positive, noting the possibilities ahead of them. 10% believe the working world is out of touch with young people, and a further 10% feel that it is a mystery.

I feel like the financial knowledge and experience I have developed over the years laid the framework for me to develop financial security.

Survey Respondent

Soft skills for success

When it comes to the abilities needed to succeed, soft skills win out over traditional practical skills such as accounting and budgeting. They believe that problem solving (93%), communication skills (72%) and creative thinking (69%) are key to future success – showing that they believe adaptability to be key in a shifting economy.

When asked what challenges face young people as they plan their future careers, students focus on a lack of financial skills (76%) and an uncertain economy (69%). A large portion of respondents also state that not knowing what they want to do (72%) is a challenge they are facing as they begin to plan their career.

Industry expert explaining financial literacy concepts

Future focus and finding support

Students believe that more real-world experience (86%) and increased financial education in schools (83%) could help young people prepare for future success. They are positive about the impact of finding mentors with real-world experience (59%) and following social media channels dedicated to business and finance (41%).

Learning the JA way

JA has definitely helped me prepare whether it’s experiencing real life work, creating a business or learning that things can go wrong but that shouldn’t stop you.

Survey Respondent

JA Central Ontario’s online programs tackle many of the issues raised in this survey and provide students with the skills to thrive in a changing economy.

Whether students feel uncertain or excited about their futures, our programs give them the practical and soft skills needed to confidently manage their finances and plan their careers.

For younger students, our programs for grades 3-8 develop the basics of financial and career planning. At high school level, our programs continue to help students develop a sense of their own goals and how to reach them.

We also offer hands-on experiences, often in conjunction with industry experts, that introduce students to the world of work and key financial concepts.

Students at a financial literacy event

These experiences help students develop a sense of what they want from their working life and how they can get there. Creating connections to real-world, successful professionals helps students understand exactly how they too can succeed. From building your own company to developing an investment portfolio or hearing from expert speakers, our programs set students up for success – no matter what the future has in store.

About the sample

We asked our amazing Brand Ambassadors to respond to our questions. These Brand Ambassadors are current or former JA Central Ontario students, aged 14-18. This survey includes responses from 29 Ambassadors – that’s 28 current High School students, and one recent graduate.

About JA Central Ontario

Through the delivery of hands-on, blended learning in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness, JA Central Ontario empowers young people to grow their entrepreneurial ideas, hone their work skills, manage their earnings, and secure better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. Since 1968, schools in Central Ontario have relied on JA to prepare young people for success in an ever-changing global economy.

JA Central Ontario is a member of JA Canada and part of JA Worldwide, the world's largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about business.