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New report - NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe

In Europe there are 94 million Europeans aged between 15 and 29. It is a matter of great concern that only 34% of this group was employed in 2011, the lowest figure ever recorded by Eurostat. Serious as this statistic may be, they do not adequately capture the situation of young people, not least because many are students and hence classified as being out of the labour force. For this reason, EU policymakers are increasingly using the concept of NEET, which stands for ‘not in employment, education or training’.

What has a NEET to do with youth unemployment?

The definition of NEET is referring to those who currently do not have a job, are not enrolled in training or are not classified as a student. It is a measure of disengagement from the labour market and perhaps also from society in general.

About the report on youth unemployment

This new report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of living and working conditions  analyses the labour market situation of young people in Europe, with a specific focus on the group categorised as NEET. It examines the determinants of belonging to the this group, and measures the economic and social costs of NEETs. In addition, it assesses how policy in Member States has sought to support young people to gain a foothold in the labour market.

Policy context of youth unemployment on the EU-level

The European Commission has responded to the high unemployment rates of young people through the Europe 2020 flagship initiative Youth on the Move and the 2012–2013 Youth Opportunities Initiative. The European Commission has introduced new indicators, such as the NEET rate, to monitor the labour market and social situation of young people and facilitate comparison between Member States in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Key findings on youth unemployment

According to Eurostat, in 2011, 7.5 million young people aged 15–24 and an additional 6.5 million young people aged 25–29 were excluded from the labour market and education in Europe. This corresponds to a significant increase in the NEETS rate: in 2008, the figure stood at 11% of 15–24-year-olds and 17% of 25–29-year-olds; by 2011 these rates had increased to 13% and 20% respectively. There is huge variation between Member States, with rates varying from below 7% (Luxembourg and the Netherlands) to above 17% (Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy and Spain).


For more information, download the full report.