NEET is a government acronym for people currently "not in education, employment, or training". It was first used in the United Kingdom but its use has spread to other countries, including Japan, China, and South Korea. People under the designation are called NEETs (or Neets).

In the United Kingdom, the classification comprises people aged between 16 and 24 (some 16-year-olds are still of compulsory school age); the subgroup of NEETs aged 16–18 is frequently of particular focus. In Japan, the classification comprises people aged between 15 and 34 who are unemployed, not engaged in housework, not enrolled in school or work-related training, and not seeking work. The "NEET group" is not a uniform set of individuals.


United Kingdom

Knowledge of the word spread after it was used in a 1999 report by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU).[1] Before this, the phrase "status zero" (or "Status Zer0"), which had an identical meaning, was used. Andy Furlong writes that the use of the term NEET became popular partly because of the negative connotations of having 'no status'.[2] The classification is specifically redefined in other local government papers, such as "respondents who were out of work or looking for a job, looking after children or family members, on unpaid holiday or traveling, sick or disabled, doing voluntary work or engaged in another unspecified activity"; the acronym, however, has no agreed definition with respect to measurement, particularly in relation to defining economic inactivity. Karen Robson writes that the classification has "virtually usurped discussions of "youth unemployment" in the UK literature".[3] Scott Yates and Malcolm Payne say that initially there was a "holistic focus" on the NEET group by policy-makers which looked at the problems young people went through, but this changed as the NEET status became framed in negative terms—"as reflective of a raft of risks, problems and negative orientations on the part of young people".[4] NEET figures for England are published by the Department for Education (DfE).[5] The methodology used in calculating the number of NEETs aged 16–18 is different to that used for those aged 16–24. The first relies on a range of sources, the second on the Labour Force Survey.[6]

A 2007 report commissioned by the Prince's Trust said almost a fifth of people aged 16–24 in England, Scotland, and Wales were NEETs; the proportion was lowest in Northern Ireland (13.8 percent).[7] The second-quarter figures for 2011 showed that 979,000 people in England between 16 and 24 were NEETs, accounting for 16.2 percent in that age group.[8] Between 1995 and 2008, the proportion of NEETs aged 16–18 in England remained fairly stable at around 8–11 percent.[9] The Guardian reported in 2011 that, since 2003, there has been an 15.6 percent decrease in people aged 16–18 in employment, but a 6.8 percent increase in those in education and training.[10] NEET figures tend to peak in the third quarter, when school and university courses are ending.[11]

There is some stigma attached to the term NEET.[12] Simon Cox of BBC News said the word is "the latest buzzword for teenage drop-outs".[13] He says "Neets are 20 times more likely to commit a crime and 22 times more likely to be a teenage mum", and that Barking and Dagenham has been called the country's "Neet capital".[14] David Smith of The Times calls them "the yobs hanging around off-licences late into the night".[15] According to Colin Webster, NEETs commit disproportionately large amounts of crime. Children with high levels of truancy and exclusions at school are likely to become NEETs.[16]

Several schemes and ideas have been developed to reduce the number of NEETs. One of the main goals of the Connexions service, first piloted in 2001, is to reduce the number of NEETs.[4] Most local authorities have made a local area agreement to this end.[17] As part of the 2004 Spending Review, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) had a public service agreement to reduce the proportion of NEETs from 9.6 percent in 2004 to 7.6 percent in 2010.[18] Introduced in 2004–2005 the UK-wide Education Maintenance Allowance offers a means-tested weekly payment of up to £30 to young people continuing education past secondary school.[19] In 2007 the government implemented a "September guarantee" that guaranteed all 16-year-old school leavers a suitable learning place in September, extended to 17-year-olds the following year.[20] The "Young Person's Guarantee" was announced in the 2009 budget, offering a guaranteed job, training, or work experience to 18–24-year-olds who have been on Jobseeker's Allowance for six months; it went live on 25 January 2010. It was announced in the 2010 budget that the scheme would end in March 2012, an extension of one year.[21] The Education and Skills Act 2008, which was granted royal assent in 2008, will increase the school leaving age in England to 17 in 2013, and to 18 in 2015; the Act gives the National Assembly for Wales the option to raise the leaving age in that country.[22] A number of further education colleges seek to enrol NEETs. For example, it was reported in 2005 that a course for NEETs at Bournemouth and Poole College had offered various sign-on incentives, and completion bonuses of a free iPod and £100 in cash.[14]

The Scottish Executive limits the NEET classification to those aged 16–19.[23]


NEET is distinct from freeter, the classification for those who continually move between low-wage jobs.

The demographic prevalence of NEETs has been indicated in employment statistics. Japanese politicians expressed concern about the impact on the economy of the growth in the NEET population. The estimated size rose from 480,000 in September 2002 to 520,000 in September 2003, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Other surveys by the Japanese government in 2002 presented a much larger figure of 850,000 people who can be classified as NEET, of which 60% were people aged 25 to 34.

Unlike most Western European countries, Japan's unemployment benefit terminates automatically after three to six months. Many NEETs in Japan are supported by their parents. This support can enable the form of social withdrawal known as the hikikomori phenomenon, which some believe is a reaction to the oppressive Japanese work environment. Routine demands for overtime and personal sacrifice have led to death due from overwork (karōshi) in extreme cases.

This reaction against excessively demanding work can be seen in the rise of the Hodo-Hodo zoku: Employees who avoid promotion to minimize stress and maximize free time. NEETs, hikikomori, and freeters might be young people who cannot or will not work to meet the expectations of older generations.

Japanese NEETs include many who have rejected the accepted social model of adulthood. They do not seek full-time employment after graduation, or further training to obtain marketable job skills through the governmental Hello Work schemes. They might be reacting against the traditional career path of the salaryman. Some experts attribute this to the extended economic stagnation during the 1990s, which led to high unemployment among young people (2.13 million by some estimates). Many freeters, who were nominally employed, became NEETs.[citation needed]

The system of lifetime employment has disintegrated in the face of economic pressures from globalization. The availability of life-long employment in a single company has become increasingly untenable for both corporations and individuals.

Professor Michiko Miyamoto describes the situation as a "breakdown of the social framework forged in an industrial society, by which young people become adults."[citation needed]

Other countries

A 2008 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the unemployment and NEET rates for people aged 16–24 in the majority of OECD countries fell in the past decade, attributed to increased participation in education.[24]

Spain and Mexico

In Spain and Mexico, the term "ni-ni" ("neither-nor") has become a popular equivalent of NEET. The term refers to youth that neither study, nor work "(ni estudia, ni trabaja)".

See also


  1. ^ Robson, Karen. "The Afterlife of NEETs". pp. 181–. In: Attewell, Paul; Newman, Katherine S. (eds) (2010). Growing Gaps: Educational Inequality Around the World. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Furlong, Andy. "Not a very NEET solution representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers" (subscription required). Work, Employment and Society 20 (3): 553–569. September 2006.
  3. ^ Robson, pp. 181–.
  4. ^ a b Yates, Scott; Payne, Malcolm. "Not so NEET? A Critique of the Use of ‘NEET’ in Setting Targets for Interventions with Young People" (subscription required). Journal of Youth Studies 9 (3): 329–344. July 2006.
  5. ^ "16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET)". Department for Education. 12 July 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Neet Statistics – Quarter Brief: August 2011" PDF (202 KB). Department for Education. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 25 August 2011. See webpage.
  7. ^ "The Cost of Exclusion: Counting the cost of youth disadvantage in the UK" PDF (1.57 MB). The Prince’s Trust. April 2007. p. 13. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  8. ^ Cook, Chris. "‘Neets’ account for 16% of young". Financial Times. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", p. 6.
  10. ^ Shepherd, Jessica. "Record number of young people not in education, work or training". The Guardian. 24 February 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  11. ^ "'Neet' youths figure at second-quarter high". BBC News. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", pp. 8–9.
  13. ^ Cox, Simon. "A 'Neet' solution". BBC News. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  14. ^ a b Cox, Simon. "A 'Neet' solution". BBC News. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  15. ^ Smith, David. "Nobody Neets this lazy lot any more". The Times. 7 January 2007. Accessed 25 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  16. ^ Webster, Colin (2007). Understanding Race and Crime. Open University Press. pp. 123–124.
  17. ^ "Rise of the NEETs". Local Government Improvement and Development. October 2009. Accessed 25 August 2011. Archived 25 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", pp. 6–7.
  19. ^ Dawson, Catherine (2010). Learn While You Earn. Kogan Page Publishers. Chapters 12–15.
  20. ^ Lupton, Ruth; Heath, Natalie; Salter, Emma. "Education: New Labour's top priority". In: Hills, John; Sefton, Tom; Stewart, Kitty. (eds) (2009). Towards a More Equal Society?: Poverty, Inequality and Policy Since 1997. The Policy Press. p. 82.
    • For the definition of "suitable", see: "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", p. 10.
  21. ^ Goujard, Antoine; Petrongolo, Barbara; Van Reenen, John. "The Labour Market For Young People". p. 47. In: Gregg, Paul; Wadsworth, Jonathan. (eds) (2011). The Labour Market in Winter: The State of Working Britain. Oxford University Press.
  22. ^ "School leaving age plans unveiled". BBC News. 6 November 2007. Accessed 25 August 2011.
  23. ^ "Literature Review of the NEET Group", p. 1.
  24. ^ OECD Employment Outlook 2008. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2008. p. 27.


Further reading

United Kingdom

External links

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