The term NEET is spreading over the whole Europe, and the initials refer to young person neither in employment young, nor in education or training, but: do we really know what is a NEET, what types of NEET exist and why is it important to work with this target?
Fig 01. Share of young people neither in employment nor in education
The majority of young people aged 15–19 in the EU-28 remains within education and training so we don’t find many people in these ages being NEETs — 6.1 % in 2016. The situation is quite different among those aged 20–34, as almost one in five (18.3 %) of this subpopulation were in 2016 neither in employment nor in education and training; this corresponded to approximately 16.9 million young people.
Sometimes we think that the NEET is the young person completely demotivated, that is in his/her house, playing video games, watching TV or surfing in Internet.
During the REAL-E training course in Rome, we were discussing extensively this issue. The first thing that we must clarify is that NEET is not a description of how is a person, but a description of the situation in which he/she is. Everybody can be NEET in some period of his/her life, independently of the capacities or the education. In this phenomenon there are several factors that we must bear in mind, and that are beyond the competitions of the young people (for example the situation of the labour market, the family situation, etc.) Also it is necessary keep in mind that there are voluntary and involuntary NEETs: the first ones are comfortable with the situation in which they are and do not have the need to modify it, the second ones are in a situation "unbalanced", of which they want to escape.
In Spain, for example, the "ninis" are much stigmatized, considered are apathetic young people (he/she doesn't give a damn about anything), to whom a good education has been offered and also opportunities, but that didn’t want to make use of them. Before the ethics of the effort that is in fashion nowadays, the "ninis" are seen almost like a social mark, who does not deserve the resources that are foreseen for them. To be a NEET is a shame, to have a child NEET is a shame, to be related with NEETs is a danger. This way the society escapes of this problem and does not take the responsibility of the social and historical complexity of the problem.
The European Union thinks that this topic is one of the most important for the EU because it concerns the youth, therefore it has created different initiatives like “Youth in action” or Young Adult Opportunity Initiative” or also the program “Youth Guarantee” that is being implemented in the different European countries with more or less success.
The unemployment rate of young people has been typically higher than that of adults and the recent economic and financial crisis hit young people extremely hard. The European Commission introduced the “NEET rate”, to monitor the number of NEETs within the members.
The group of NEETs is very heterogeneous. It can refer to young care givers as to youngsters who choose other activities such as art, music or self-directed learning instead of a normal job or training. Young people with lower education level are more in risk of becoming NEETS, as well as those with an immigrant background or young people with disabilities or health problems.
NEETS can easily become socially and politically alienated and the economic loss of their disengagement of the labour market costs hundreds of billions to EU. So, this is not only a personal problem, but a problem of the society as a whole that can have a serious economic and political cost.
The transition between studies labour market is not that clear and direct as in the past: now the transition is longer and unpredictable, and Young people are more likely to switch jobs than becoming established in the labour market. It’s also becoming more popular that young people combine their studies with a part-time job, and that they are engaged in processes of education during their entire life, so the boundaries between education and job are blurring.
Furthermore, competencies required by labour market are less and less connected with the knowledge acquired in formal education and more linked with those that are developed in non-formal activities (such as working in teams or learning to learn).
How we tackle this issue within COMP-PASS project?
We want to promote the engagement of young people in labour market
from 3 different perspectives:
- We don’t forget that the CV is still the most used tool by job recruiters. The problem with NEETs is that they have troubles filling up an appealing CV, due to their lack of experience and self-esteem.
For that reason, we are creating a system online where young people can reflect their competences acquired either in formal, non-formal or informal environments. This is a process guided by a well-prepared coach, who will help them to discover their own competences and strengths throw the methodology of storytelling and reflect these competences online. The result it’s a classic CV europass, but that is connected to the e-portfolio and the recruiter can check the detailed competences and the evidences to prove that they have acquired them.
- We are aware that overcome our fears, increase our self-esteem and be aware of our competences and strengths are not easy task. During the training course Real-E, we developed together a system of workshops to help young people to take steps before filling in the E-portfolio.
- We also know that NEETs are not a clear group and that they are perceived negatively by the society, so we are going to create videos with them to show the real face of NEETs and their stories of success. By creating the videos, we also want them to become more aware of themselves and get ready to take a step forward about their education or their insertion in the labour market.