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Crisis, what crisis? Who counts as NEET as experts argue for #youth #employment programme

by on May 26, 2017

Remember NEETs, those aged 16-24 who are not in education, employment or training? They come under the spotlight periodically and were in the news again this week in this article in The Independent. The latest figures from the ONS apparently show that the number of NEETs has risen significantly in the past year. Oddly, the article only refers to those aged 16-18 so it’s not clear if we are talking about the same group.

More than 7% of those aged 16-18 are now classed as NEET which is approximately 134,000 people. It’s suggested that this age group isn’t receiving careers advice and training opportunities.

We also now have NETs (not sure I’ve seen this acronym before). These are said to be 16-18 year-olds who are not in education or training. The number of NETs has also risen, up by 2% to 15.5%.

The article quotes Kirsty McHugh of the Employment Related Services Association (ESRA) as saying: “Central Government just do not see youth unemployment as a crisis. But actually, it’s been a big problem for a long, long time and that has been the case since before the economic crash.” Well, we’ve certainly seen in our data alerts a number of occasions when the crisis formulation has been used to describe youth unemployment. Currently the youth unemployment rate is 12.7% (for 19-24 year olds, yet another age group) compared to an overall UK unemployment rate of 4.6%.

It is noteworthy how different ages are used across the article, e.g. for youth unemployment these are not the same as the NEETs or NETs. Does this allow the conflation of different statistics to create a more compelling case for intervention? In the context of the general election, it’s interesting that Ms McHugh decides that the current absence of a Government youth employment programme is a contributing factor.

Other points to note: look at the stock photo! I’ve not seen that one before but it’s certainly ripe for visual analysis, particularly when you also read some of the reader comments below the line.

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