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728,000 people aged 16-24 were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in January-March 2021, 10.6% of all people in this age group. This was a fall of 69,000 from the previous quarter and a fall of 54,000 from the year before.

The proportion of 16-24 year olds who were NEET increased following the 2008 recession and peaked in July-September 2011 when 16.9% of 16-24 year olds were NEET (1.25 million people). Since then the number of people who are NEET has been falling.

Studies have shown that time spent NEET can have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health, and increase the likelihood of unemployment, low wages, or low quality of work later on in life.

44% of the young people who were NEET in January-March 2021 were unemployed. The remaining 56% were economically inactive, which means they were not working, not seeking work and/or not available to start work.


Historically more women than men have been NEET, but in recent years there have generally been more men who are NEET than women.

The main reason for this is a large fall in the number of women who are inactive because they are looking after their family or home.

The number of men who are inactive has been rising over the last couple of years mainly due to an increase in the number of men who were either long term sick or disabled.

Policies to reduce the number of people who are NEET

The coronavirus outbreak has particularly impacted on the labour market status of young people, with a large fall in employment and a rise in unemployment amongst 16-24 year olds.

As a result, many of the initiatives that have been put in place in response to the outbreak have been targeted at young people. Some of the policies in place that aim to reduce the number of people who are NEET include the kickstart scheme, further incentives for employers to take on apprentices and trainees, expanded job support for young jobseekers and funding for selected level 2 and 3 qualifications for school or college leavers.


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