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Young people and 'NEETs'

The aim of this project is to investigate the current situation of young people in Europe, focusing specifically on those who are not in employment, education or training, and to understand the economic and social consequences of their disengagement from the labour market and education. Member State initiatives to help reintegrate young people into the labour market are also investigated.

Definition: what is a NEET?

NEET means not in employment, education or trainingThe term NEET is used to describe young people who are not engaged in any form of employment, education or training. The term has come into the policy debate in recent years due to disproportionate impact of the recession on young people (under 30 years old). The unemployment rate for those under thirty is nearly double the average rate.

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Who is at risk?

Lower education levels, immigration background and health problems are all risk factorsThose with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET than those with third-level education. The risk is 70% higher for young people from an immigration background than nationals while having a disability or health issue is also a strong risk factor.

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Rates of NEETs across Europe

NEET means not in employment, education or trainingSome 14 million young people are not in employment, education or training across the EU as a whole. However rates vary widely from from around 5.5% of 15-24 year olds in the Netherlands to 22.7% in Italy.

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The cost of NEETs to society

Estimated economic cost of of not integrating NEETs is over 150 billion euroThe economic cost of not integrating NEETs is estimated at over €150 billion, or 1.2% of GDP, in 2011 figures. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland are paying 2% or more of their GDP.

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Disengagement from society

NEETs are more likely to be politically and socially alienatedThe economic cost is not the only one. Young people not in employment, education or training are at higher risk of being socially and politically alienated. They have a lower level of level of interest and engagement in politics and lower levels of trust. Even in those countries where NEETs are more politically engaged (such as Spain) they do not identify with the main actors.

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Policy measures

Innovative policy measures can have some successEU Member States have tried a number of measures to prevent young people from becoming NEET and to reintegrate those who are NEETs. The involvement of a range of stakeholders in the design and delivery of youth employment measures is essential. In particular, a strong level of engagement with employers and their representatives is needed for measures that focus on fostering their beneficiaries’ employability. Successful policies are innovative. They introduce new ways of reaching out to their target groups, with outreach activities forming an important part of efforts to engage disfranchised young people, while incentives, ‘branding’ and marketing campaigns can be useful in the context of more universal youth employment services.

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Page last updated: 13 December, 2013