NEETs Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe

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The immediate future of Europe depends upon the 94 million Europeans aged between 15 and 29. Apart from the challenges that young people for generations have faced as they embark up on adult life, this generation will live in an era of full globalisation and will have to cope with the responsibility of an ageing population. So it is a matter of great concern that these young people have been hit so hard by the economic crisis. Only 34% were employed in 2011, the lowest figure ever recorded by Eurostat. The unemployment figures also testify to an appreciably more difficult labour market for young people; since the start of the recession, youth unemployment has risen by 1.5 million, reaching 5.5 million (or 21%) in 2011. Serious as these statistics 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 - ‘not in employment, education or training’. The definition is in principle straightforward, 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 from society in general. This report 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 NEET 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.

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