Who are NEETs?

This blog is just one of many which has discussed the effect that the global recession has had on specific demographics. In this series, Focus on Youth, this blog will look at the issues surrounding young people and how investing in this demographic can have mutual benefits for both the individual as well as the economy. This first article will highlight issues discussed in the IPPR paper, Youth Tracker (Issue 4).

 The acronym ‘NEET’ is used to denote an individual who is ‘not in education, employment or training’ and has become a rather modern and key demographic for focus. This young demographic can often have not only issues surrounding their qualifications and skills but moreover a lack of confidence, aspiration and vision. This is an extremely detrimental spiral as a series of job rejections for the individual and local peer group can lead to disillusionment and claiming benefits is often viewed as the best way out. But who is most at risk of becoming NEET?

 Analysis completed by the IPPR has shed some light on the preconceived ideas about NEETs. Since 2008 (i.e. when the effects of the global financial crisis were filtering into all parts of the economy) to 2010 the article has shown that the risk for degree level educated young people has increased by over 50%. The only demographic to have a larger percentage change was those whose highest qualification was higher education at a 63% increase.

 There is no doubt that these are incredibly difficult times for young people who have spent a lot of time and money on their education and the students with higher education and degrees need to be targeted.

 However this does not mean that there are more people with degrees who are NEET than those with no qualifications. The total proportion of those students with a degree who are NEET is 11.4% compared with 36.1% of those with no qualifications. This goes to show that the recession has disproportionately affected those with university degrees but should not mask the extremely large proportions of those with no qualifications or level 2 qualifications with 36.1% and 16.1%, respectively.

  Q1 2008 Q1 2010 PP Change % Change
Degree 7.5 11.4 3.9 52
HE 7.9 12.9 5 63.3
Level 3 6.4 9.1 2.7 42.2
Level 2 14 16.1 2.1 15
None 34.6 36.1 1.5 4.3
Source: IPPR Youth Tracker Issue 4 p9  


In sum, this has shown that there is not simply one demographic of young people which need to be targeted in order to generate the large potential economic activity. While I am sure that each group has to be focused in a different way, it would be foolish to target only one group. The recession has hit those with a degree disproportionately and we need to find ways to tackle this but it is also this group which would benefit greater when the economy is growing. In order to get each group economically active there has to be more than the academic route to capture the imagination, aspiration and vision needed to change the rhetoric of being NEET.


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