Me Estuda, Me Trabalha

Posted: 2017-10-11
Written by: EU Network
Category: Battle of ideas
Tagged: youth sustainable development neet learning labor europe 2020 employment education economics

Do not study, do not work (translation from Portuguese)

How much do we know about NEET? What does NEETs mean?

The transition from school to work has never been particularly easy; but for millions of people it has become nearly impossible.


In January 2017, 4.017 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the European Union, of whom 2.826 million were in the euro area. Compared with January 2016, youth unemployment decreased by 357 000 in the European Union and by 198 000 in the euro area. In January 2017, the youth unemployment rate was 17.7% in the European Union and 20.0% in the euro area, compared with 19.3% and 21.7% respectively in January 2016. In January 2017, the lowest rate was observed in Germany (6.5%), while the highest were recorded in Greece (45.7% in November 2016), Spain (42.2%) and Italy (37.9%).

The younger generation is currently faced with a situation where there is not only a lack of jobs, many jobs are simply inaccessible to many, especially those who live in developing countries and who may not have access to adequate education and training. This situation dramatically changes a young person’s ability to plan their future and their general outlook on life. The share of youth which are neither in employment nor in education or training in the youth population the so-called “NEET rate’’  is a relatively new indicator. NEET  indicator presents the share of young people who are not in employment, education or training,  as a percentage of the total number of young people in the corresponding age group, by gender. 

Unlike for unemployment or employment, there is no international standard for the definition of NEETs. Current literature frequently simplifies the measurement of NEETs to unemployed + inactive non-students, ignoring the fact that some unemployed persons are also students and should thus be excluded from the calculation. Therefore NEET youth can be either unemployed or inactive and not involved in education or training. Young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training are at risk of becoming socially excluded – individuals with income below the poverty-line and lacking the skills to improve their economic situation.


The NEET rate for young people is closely linked to economic performance and the business cycle.

Recent data shows that the share of NEETs in the European Union from 17.6 % in 2006 to a relative low of 16.5 % by 2008, but then jumped to 18.5 % the following year, after the onset of the global financial and economic crisis. The rate then rose at a more modest pace through to 2013, when it reached 20.1 %, before decreasing to 18.3 % in 2016.

Activity status of young people neither in employment nor in education and training in 2016 (by age and sex)


Source: Eurostat

Unemployment is a crucial economic factor for a country; youth unemployment is often examined separately because it tends to be higher than unemployment in older age groups. It comprises the unemployment figures of a country’s labor force aged 15 to 24 years old (i.e. the earliest point at which mandatory school education ends). Typically, teenagers and those in their twenties who are fresh out of education do not find jobs right away, especially if the country’s economy is experiencing difficulties, as can be seen above. Additionally, it also tends to be higher in emerging markets than in industrialized nations. Worldwide, youth unemployment figures have not changed significantly over the last decade, nor are they expected to improve in the next few years.

With a record number of NEETs following the financial and economic crisis, there have been concerns among stakeholders that a whole generation of young people in the European Union could remain out of the labour market for years to come. The implications of this are two-fold: on a personal level, these individuals are more likely to become disenfranchised and to suffer from poverty and social exclusion, while at a macro-economic level they represent a considerable loss in terms of unused productive capacity and a considerable cost in terms of welfare payments. The fact that one in four young people who are employed across the European Union is on a temporary contract is an evidence that even if young people can find work, the nature of this can be insecure with many likely to fall  in and out of NEET status. There are many  challenges facing several European Union member states, in particular Greece and Spain where NEET levels are running at over 25%.

Share of young people (aged 20–34) neither in employment nor in education and training, by sex in 2016 (%)


Source: Eurostat


Why are NEET levels so high?

Youth unemployment rates are usually much higher than such rates for the society as a whole. This shows how difficult it is for young people to find jobs. However, we have to take notice that large group of unemployed youth are studying full-time. This group is usually not looking for a permanent job. Thus, they are not unemployed in practice, because they are not part of the labor force as a whole. Labor force is one of the most necessary factors to calculate unemployment rate. To calculate the exact value of the indicator, we need to know the number of the unemployed and the total quantity of labor force in the selected area.

The youth consolidation into the labor market is a significant goal all over the world and a key policy issue of the European Employment Strategy. The European Employment Guidelines stress the need to build employment path for young people and to diminish youth unemployment. “Europe 2020” plan pays notice to youth labor and education problems, aiming particularly at an increase of social capital. In the European Union, youth unemployment rates are overall more than twice as high as the adult rates, with significant differences across countries and regions.


There is a strong association between school attendance at younger ages and subsequent literacy and numeracy capacity – a relationship that is particularly significant amongst socio-economically disadvantaged learners. Structural barriers to labour market entry, reflected in the prevalence of short term and temporary contracts for young people, are seen as further heightening the NEET challenge.
There is also a huge difference in the unemployment rates between labor market entrants and experienced workers. This is shaped by a number of different factors. Youth participation rates are falling relative to adult partici - pation rates. There are many reasons for this.

  • • The most common reason is that many young people lack knowledge of what the labor market actually is like, and have not given careful thought to their own future career choices. In many cases, they have not used their time in school to gain work experience.
  • • A lack of work experience is another reason across the European Union member states. Less than half of students in vocational education and training  and fewer than two in five students in academic contexts, are participating in any kind of work based learning.


Why it is important to invest in Youth ?

A recent studies  have  found that spending time as NEET may lead to a wide range of social disadvantages such as insecure and poor future employment, criminal behavior, and mental and physical health problems.  These are all issues that warrant greater attention as young people continue to feel the aftermath of the economic crisis, particularly in advanced economies. The popularity of the “NEET” concept is associated with its assumed potential to address rising number of vulnerabilities among youth, touching on issues of unemployment, early school leaving and labour market discouragement.

  • • We can't reach the Sustainable Development Goals without investing in youth.

Sustainable Development Goal Nr. 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Even though more children and youth than ever are going to school, many do not acquire basic skills in reading and mathematics still millions of children and youth worldwide are out of school, including millions of children of primary school age.

  • • Can ultimately promote gender equality.

A holistic package that includes reproductive health education, life skills, money management etc can prepare young women to secure safer, better paying jobs; enjoy greater self-confidence; find financial independence; and can make communities safer and healthier.

  • • Investing in young people is good for business.

As unemployment continues to affect millions of young people and businesses struggle to find qualified employees. The study, which looked at European data, found that some young people were at greater risk of being NEET than others. Those with low levels of education in Europe were three times more likely to be NEET compared to those with postsecondary education, while young immigrants were 70 % more likely to become NEET than nationals. The same study estimated that the economic loss due to the disengagement of young people from the labor market is huge – around 1.2 %  of the European gross domestic product.


What governments and other involved stakeholders must do?

  • • Most recent report of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development makes the following recommendations:
  • • High-quality pre-primary education for all children should be provided in order to help mitigate disparities in education outcomes and to give every child a strong start to their education.
  • • Teachers and school leaders should identify low achievers early on to give them the support they need to attain sufficient proficiency in reading, mathematics and science, and prevent them from dropping out of school entirely.
  • • Public employment services, social welfare institutions and education and training systems should offer some form of second-chance education or training. In return for receiving social benefits, young people could be required to register with social welfare or public employment services, and participate in further education and training.
  • • Education providers and the business sector should work together to design qualifications frameworks that accurately reflect the actual skills of new graduates.
  • • Work-based learning should be integrated into both vocational and academic post-secondary programmes.

Recent reports make clear, the situation with NEET young people represents a waste of their potential contribution to society and the economy. This waste is also seen as a potential burden for states in terms of lower tax levels, higher welfare payments, and the potential for social instability resulting from a demoralised, out of work section of the population.

Being  out of labour market, and not in education or training  not only impact on someone’s ability to earn a living, it is a reflection of the opportunities (or lack of) that are available. For young people in this situation, the risk is of entering “a vicious cycle” of deceasing skills capacity and reduced potential to successfully enter the labour market. Young people are feeling stuck and many of them believe that unless they are given an opportunity through external help, they are unlikely to find the means to escape the poverty trap. Investing in young people by creating jobs and by building gateways into the labour market is a significant opportunity for business and country development  in itself.

Non Governmental Organisation ‘’Donum Animus’’ from Latvia was a partner for Erasmus+ Youth Workers Training Course ‘’NEETs to Work Soft Skills to Employability’’ which was implemented in collaboration with Associação de Defesa do Património Cultural e Natural de Soure in Portugal.


There are no comments

Post a comment