Who are the NEETs and why?

The NEET concept and definition is discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEET “Knowledge of the word spread after it was used in a 1999 report by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU”, so the term was less well known when the stretching of the UK’s national income distribution apparently became permanent around 1992.


Andy Furlong has written on Scottish NEETs, as a meaningless classification. http://wes.sagepub.com/content/20/3/553.short

“Not a very NEET Solution: representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers”

The abstract says “…it is an ill-considered concept that places an undue and often misleading emphasis on voluntarism.”


He also wrote this paper (which I was able to read in full for free):


Furlong, A. (2007) “Supporting the Transitions of Vulnerable Youth: UK Perspectives”, in The Japan Institute for Labor Policy Training Report No. 5.


“First, modern youth transitions take much longer to accomplish …” “… today many young people fail to get established in the labour market by their mid-20s …”


Guilty as charged, M’Lud!


“Second … transitions have become much more complex.” “… people move between education, training, unemployment and jobs. In this context the term ‘yo-yo’ has been used to describe modern youth transitions (EGRIS 2001).”


Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.


“Third, this complexity and unpredictability leads to a situation where young people can feel that they are constantly confronted by risk.” This perception may be incorrect, but can still cause anxiety.


“Fourth” the complexity and uniqueness of each young person’s transition from full-time compulsory education makes it hard to learn from others, and can lead to self-blame.


“Fifth ” despite all the changes in youth transitions and their apparent unpredictability, pre-existing “… patterns of inequality have been maintained.” So that would include any extra inequality created during the 1980’s. Inequality indirectly influences the outcome of the prolonged “yo-yo” transition from compulsory education, it’s not at the forefront of the minds of NEETs. The practical things that are salient to them are explained in the following study.


All the participants in the following study were born after the inequality boom of the 1980’s, and would have grown up with it. The small 2014 study of NEETS aged 18-20 tends to confirm that the emphasis on most NEETs having a choice to stay at home is indeed “misleading”.


As in recent media coverage (BBC Radio 4 “Woman’s Hour”), the majority of the 7 NEET (and 13 recently ex-NEET) interviewees were female.


Barriers to entering EET included:

  • physical/mental illness,
  • looking after for someone else,
  • lack of flexible working conditions,
  • family breakdown,
  • pregnancy,
  • distance to work/college (in a rural area),
  • college fees,
  • lack of practical support,
  • lack of careers advice,
  • indecision as to which way to go, and
  • poor school attainment (due to special educational needs, discipline problems, health issues, or bullying).


Those who had recently entered education, employment or training had often done so through considerable personal effort and initiative. The complex and prolonged transition from full-time compulsory education was also emphasised here.


Only one of the group had a graduate parent. More typical was the one leaving Local Authority care.


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