NEET: not engaged in education, employment or training

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?They call it the “NEET” generation and they are young people up to the age of 34 who are not in training, do not have jobs and often do not even look for it. Due to the economic and financial crisis that began in 2007, this category of people is constantly increasing. In Italy more than 30% of young people, especially in the South, between 20 and 34 belong to this generation. 8.4% in Switzerland.The latest data shows that of the 17 million young NEET Europeans, 42% of males and 70% of females are inactive, i.e. they are unemployed and do not look for a job. The data is worrying: this whole generation of young people could stay out of the working world for a long time if not forever.The direct consequence is easy to understand. These young people, on a personal level, go towards poverty and social exclusion. At the macroeconomic level they represent a considerable loss in terms of unused labor and of course a huge burden for the welfare state.

The Netherlands: 9,7

Luxembourg: 9,9

Denmark: 10

EU: 18,3

Spain: 22,8

Romania: 23,5

Bulgaria: 25,1

Greece: 30,5

Italy: 30,7


The main cause of NEET is the high unemployment of youth. During the recession, youth unemployment rose at a faster rate than the main unemployment rate.  After peaking at 20% (1 million) in early 2012, youth unemployment has recently fallen to 12 % (2017). The reasons of youth unemployment are fairly similar to other causes unemployment. They include:

  • Lack of qualification: Young people without any skills are much more likely to be unemployed (structural unemployment). To validate this, a report by the Centre for Cities suggests that there is a correlation between youth unemployment and poor GCSE results in Maths and English. To some extent the service sector has offered some unskilled jobs such as bar work, waiters and etc. However, most of the time young people lack the skills and training to impress the employers.
  • Geographical unemployment: Youth unemployment is always focused in certain areas such as in Italy in the South, 19.6 %, in contrast with the North where it is approximately 6.9%.
  • Real wage unemployment: There has always been a discrimination between young people below 20, with a minimum wage of 5.60 pounds and those aged between 21-24 with a minimum wage of 7.05 pounds.
  • Cyclical unemployment: The biggest cause of unemployment in the UK is often cyclical/demand-deficient unemployment. This has been caused by the falling output which occured during the 2008 recession, when youth unemployment increased at a faster rate than the actual unemployment rate. It is often young workers who are more likely to experience unemployment; this is because with the least experience they are the easiest to remove from the labor market. Also, firms often don’t sack workers, but they do stop taking on new (young) workers.
  • Cultural /social factors: Youth unemployment is often highest amongst deprived areas where there is pessimism over job prospects or among people who have a history of broken families, drug use or criminal record. Moreover, it has been shown that youth unemployment is also higher amongst ethnic minority groups. In 2016, the unemployment rate for young Bangladeshi and Pakistani people aged 16-24 was 28%. This compared to youth unemployment rates of 12% for the White ethnic group (the lowest) and 25% for people from a Black ethnic background (the second highest).

In 2011, in the EU, there were approximately 7.5 million young people, between 15-24 years old, in a NEET status.The main problem of NEET is that it has a direct effect on the economy of a state and as a consequence on the world economy. Some of the main major economic cost of the NEET are:

  1. Higher welfare bill. Europeans aged 19 to 29 who are not engaged in education, training or employment have reached record levels and are costing the EU 3bn euros a week.
  2. High crime. NEETs are 20 times more likely to commit a crime.
  1. Higher levels of social disengagement. Work gives to the person social recognition that NEETs then don’t have and as consequence they feel marginalized from the society.

ITALY: If the European average stands at 18.3%, in Italy the NEET generation reaches 30.7% of young people between 20 and 34 years. The negative peak was reached in 2014 when it was 26.2%  These young people live mainly in the South and are mostly women. If among these NEETs more or less 50% of males have resigned themselves to remain unemployed and do not look for work, among women this figure rises to 70%. Different speech in Switzerland. Currently, NEETs are little more than 8% of young people between 20 and 34 years old. In Switzerland too, the difference between men and women is felt. If among the males are 6.1%, among women the percentage rises to 10.7%.

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