'A lot of them aren't going to come back': More young people in rural Wales consider leaving for better job prospects

Watch the full report by ITV Wales Correspondent Hannah Thomas

The Senedd election in May will see those aged 16 and 17 voting for the first time.

For young people living in rural parts of Wales, a new survey has highlighted some of the issues effecting them as they decide who to support with their vote.

Elin Protheroe wants to pursue a career as a sheep farmer Credit: ITV Wales

Elin Protheroe is a sheep farmer from Powys. She is set on staying in farming as a career, but at 19 most of her peers have already left the area in search of jobs and training.

She said: ''A lot of them have gone to university out of the area because you have to to get a career.

''A lot of them aren't going to come back. For my high school friends that's going to be it, we're going to be seeing each other on the street when they're coming home to see their parents and that's it.''

The recent survey by the Rural Youth Project shows a similar story across Wales.

60% of young people are considering moving to a town or city for better employment opportunities, while 68% said it was difficult finding work where they lived.

Some of the barriers young people say make it difficult for them to remain in rural areas where they grew up are poor connectivity and public transport links. The affordability of homes and farms is also a worry.

It is thought that after the coronavirus pandemic, more people will want to relocate to the countryside which could push up prices.

Katy Davies, Chair of Young Farmers Clubs, says pricing young people out of living in their own areas will have an impact on the wider community.

''If young people move out of rural communities that is going to have a knock on effect on schools, and potentially more rural schools closing,'' she said.

''That will then have a knock on effect on rural businesses, from post offices to pubs to local shops.''

The Rural Youth Project campaign to make the countryside an attractive place for young people to live Credit: ITV Wales

The Rural Youth Project, whose survey gives an insight into how young people are feeling, campaign to make the countryside an attractive place for these first time voters to build their futures.

The survey shows more work needs to be done, with 78% of those asked saying they only live in rural areas because of family ties.

Ffion Storer from the project said: ''Young people really want to be able to see a future where they can fulfill their potential and why shouldn't they?

''What was quite deeply concerning was that so many wanted to stay, loved living in a rural area, loved the rural community and social life that they have rurally and felt sad that they felt they had to leave.''