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NOT IN EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION OR TRAINING’ IS the definition, NEETs is the acronym, quite familiar in the U.K., partly due to the efforts of the last Labour government to eliminate them, but now apparently catching on in the rest of the European Union. Usually considered as a phenomenon among young people aged between 15 and 29, a recent report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) has shown both an increase in their numbers and a spread to more Member States. According to Eurostat, only 34% of young people were employed in 2011, the lowest figure ever recorded, however unemployment, although having increased by 1.5 million since the start of the financial crisis, only accounts for 5.5 million of the 94 million 15 to 29-year-olds. A large number of the rest of this age group are students or in training but many have simply dropped out and are excluded from both the labour market and education. Estimates, which
include those looking for work and, therefore, counting as unemployed, put the proportions at 13% of 15-24-year-olds and 20% of those aged between 25 and 29 (up from 11% and 17% respectively in 2008). The percentage varies hugely between Member States: below 7% in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, above 17% in Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy and Spain. The largest single group are those ‘conventionally’ unemployed but the sick, disabled and young carers form substantial minorities. Young people with health or disability problems are currently characterised as ‘being missed by both policy and practice’ partly because employment and health statistics do not match up so that the extent of the problem is hard to quantify. Others may be simply taking time out or exploring art, music or other forms of self-taught learning. Those with low levels of education are three times more likely to be a NEET than those with university or college qualifications and coming from an immigrant background makes you 70% more at risk.While individuals may suffer mental and physical health problems, risk of criminal offences, alienation and a general lack of trust and engagement in society, the loss to the economy is also great, amounting to €153 billion across the EU in 2011. The report advances some general ideas on policies to alleviate the problem. Firstly, as we have seen, the excluded groups are diverse and may have multiple disadvantages so the measures used must be similarly diverse and differentiated. Secondly many NEETs have personal problems which are barriers to them re-joining the labour market so they need more than just employment-based initiatives before they are ready. Thirdly young people need ‘good-quality, stable and sustainable employment’, short-term solutions without good qualifications are not good enough. Fourthly employers must be included in any programme to increase someone’s employability. Lastly most successful policies are innovative, they find new ways to reach out to disenfranchised young people; incentives, branding and marketing should not be ruled out.
|The Eurofound reports and other information can be found at the following web pages|
|Young people and NEETs –||http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/emcc/labourmarket/youth.htm|
|Active inclusion of young people furthest from the labour market||http://bit.ly/actincl13|