Not Neat to be NEET

 In News

In the UK the number of young people not in work, education or training, collectively known as NEETs, stands at 1.09 million. If you want to put a pro-government spin on things this represents a dramatic decline; after all only one short year ago there were some 104,000 more.

When considered along a longer time period however, the statistics lose some of their gloss and the government a fair share of its bragging rights. For when the current Conservative government, oh sorry make that Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, limped to power the number of NEETs was in fact 10,000 lower than it is now.

Some respite is offered the beleaguered government by figures showing that the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds classified as NEET has dropped by 1.4% over the past year. Any smugness to be derived from this success will be tempered by the fact that of the more than 1 million youth categorised as NEET, 586,000 are currently unemployed. How does translate into monetary terms?

Well, put very simply it means that over the past 7 days the UK taxpayer has funded NEETs, by way of benefit payments, to the tune of £22 million. Yes, you read that right, £22 million each week and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For instance, £133 million of potential economic output is lost each week too.

To tackle this senseless haemorrhaging of money and waste of human potential, the government is focussing on ensuring that young people are ready to be employed. To achieve this aim they are investing £7.4 billion into education and training places for 16 and 17-year-olds and a further $4.1 billion into adult learning and skills. The Local Government Authority has however suggested that large scale government programmes have questionable efficacy and risk further estranging the most vulnerable members of society.

Similar doubts should also therefore surround, Labour’s outcry at the – as they see it – premature scrapping of the Future Jobs Fund. The plan, a victim of George Osborne’s austerity fetish, aimed to provide subsidies to help young people find work. An interesting footnote to this story is that a subsequent Department for Work and Pensions study showed that the state stood to gain £7,500 per participant as a result of higher taxes and lower benefits.

The UK is a small part of a far larger picture. Globally 275 million young people are NEET. If youth unemployment were a disease, we would be living in fear of a pandemic. All sectors of society would be mobilised, directives would be issued encouraging us to show solidarity in the face of the threat, sure in the knowledge that together we could beat it. As it stands the reaction has been muted, as if a collective apathy has descended upon us all. If we want to see things change we need desperately to shake this apathy off. To find out how, please visit


Drew Hendricks 26.08.2013 Chronically High Unemployment Levels Persist

Lottie Dexter 23.08.2013 Why far too many young people still struggle to find work after education

Larry Elliott 22.08.2013 Number of young jobless higher than when coalition came to power

Anon 22.08.2013 GCSE Results: Unemployed Youths And NEET Figures ‘Shame The Government’

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