The COVID lost generation: Who are NEETs, and why does it matter?

Maritime Passenger Targeting

Even before the advent of COVID, Deborah Greenfield, The International Labour Organization (ILO) Deputy Director-General for Policy, published the following statement on the UN website about youth unemployment (or “NEETS”).

“The alarming rise in youth unemployment and the equally disturbing high levels of young people who work but still live in poverty show how difficult it will be to reach the global goal to end poverty by 2030 unless we redouble our efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth and decent work.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all economic sectors, labor-intensive industries with millions of low-paid, low-skilled young workers have been most severely affected. For example, in developing and developed countries, young people make up the majority of workers in the wholesale and retail trade, accommodation, and food services sectors. As a result, COVID and the subsequent recession are hitting these professions the hardest.

Around the world, youth employment fell by 8.7%, a noticeably higher figure than the 3.7% fall recorded for all adults. Overall, it declined to 14% in February 2022, compared to 18.2 % in the first quarter of 2021. There are also many young people whose education and training have been disrupted due to the global pandemic, leaving them – in some cases – economically inactive. Therefore, many challenges remain.

The profile of jobless youth including “NEETs”

Researchers and government workers have tried redefining this problem to tackle the challenges around youth unemployment. For example, instead of looking at unemployment figures more broadly, they’ve introduced the concept of NEETs (not in employment, education, or training) to express the particular labor market vulnerabilities young people face.

As reported by the OECD, several factors are closely associated with long-term NEET status. These include low educational attainment, gender, and indigenousness. For example, many young people who leave school early have difficulty securing employment, and others, particularly women, have caring obligations. In addition, those suffering from a physical condition or disability may have difficulty entering education or finding employment, while migrants may be confronted with language barriers.

There are approximately 9 million NEETs across the European Union, with the lack of education, training (formal or informal), or skills development making them particularly susceptible to long-term unemployment. The new definition of NEET clarifies the scale of the youth unemployment challenge. It’s now time to act on it.

Young people as the focal point

If governments worldwide are to reduce the number of NEETs struggling to enter the labor force, they must place young people at the center of their post-COVID policies – not merely leave them as an afterthought. “Resolving these scenarios requires an understanding of the intersectionality of people’s circumstances. In short, one size will not fit all when it comes to planning a recovery of employment prospects for young people,” the ILO says. Instead, it recommends an integrated approach involving stakeholders from all relevant sectors to help turn things around.

Anticipating the long-term impact of the pandemic on different age groups is also crucial, as is incorporating different perspectives when designing policies, drafting support programs, and allocating public resources.

Digital Employment Solutions can also prove valuable in improving opportunities for young jobseekers. Deploying WCC’s configurable Employment Platform Portals can quickly facilitate the job search process and help employers reach potential workers. Using WCC’s analytics and career development tools, young people no longer need to feel left out of the economic resurgence. Instead, they can power your post-pandemic recovery.

Article by: WCC Community

Published on: June 21, 2022

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