by Karinne Logez
Statistician, Directorate for Education and Skills
So what makes a NEET? And what can governments do to make sure young people successfully make the transition from education into work? The latest edition of Education Indicators in Focus suggests that there are several intertwined factors.
Is it the educational system?
As well as increasing their education participation rates, making the educational system more relevant to the labour market may help reduce NEET rates. Countries with widespread work-experience programmes, offering recognised vocational qualifications, see higher levels of young people in employment and lower NEET rates, although the effect has been more muted in this current economic crisis.
Is it the state of the economy?
NEET rates and employment-to-population ratios tend to mirror the economic cycle. When times are tough it’s harder to find a job or keep the one you have if you’re competing with more experienced workers. Fortunately, many young people react by staying on longer in education instead, so when the economy picks up, they’ve got a head start finding work. As young people are the main source of new skills in the labour force, increasing education participation rates are an encouraging trend.
Is it a cultural thing?
On average, young women are more likely to be NEET across the OECD than young men. In some countries – such as Turkey and Mexico – this effect is particularly marked. It may reflect expectations that women will be concentrating on starting a family than forging a career, particularly where young women are disproportionately inactive rather than unemployed and seeking work.
Is it an age thing?
Generally, the demographics are on the young people’s side – as the population in OECD countries age, and the proportion of young people in the population fall, both employment rates and education participation rates should increase. At the moment, economic stagnation has counteracted the effect of demographics, but once the economy picks up, young people should be well placed to forge ahead.
It’s all of these
Clearly the problem of young people dropping out of education and the labour market is a complex one with no single determining cause. However, the consequences for both individuals and society mean that it’s important to prevent young people becoming NEETs – and help reintegrate them back into work or education if they do.
For more information
On this topic, visit:
Education Indicators in Focus: www.oecd.org/education/indicators
On the OECD’s education indicators, visit:
Education at a Glance 2012: OECD Indicators: www.oecd.org/edu/eag2012
OECD's Actin Plan for Youth
OECD Forum 2013: Give youth a chance
OECD Skills Strategy Spotlight: Apprenticeships and Workplace Learning
OECD Skills Strategy
Chart source: OECD Education at a Glance 2013: Indicator C5 (www.oecd.org/edu/eag.htm) to be released 25 June, 2013