Eliane Miles speaks on NEETs in Australia

Monday, September 19, 2016

Analysis by Eliane Miles on new research released this week from the OECD highlights the challenge for young people entering their working years, particularly considering their transition from education.

While unemployment in Australia at just 5.6% is one of the lowest in the OECD, the number of Australian young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) has increased by 100,000 since the time prior to the Global Financial Crisis (2008), rising from 10.5% to 11.8% of all those aged 16 to 24 – comprising a total of 580,000 young people today.

The challenges affecting youth unemployment most often lie in a young person’s transition periods. It is normal for young people to spend some time out of education and work – in fact, 2 in 3 young people aged 16 to 24 will spend up to 3 months out of education and work – but the challenge becomes when this period of time becomes greater and the ‘relevance clock’ begins to tick. When 3 months eventuates into a year, or longer, this can lead to cycles of unemployment. Today, 1 in 5 young people aged 16 to 24 spend 12 months or more out of employment, education, or training, and it is these young people that will face the most significant challenges as they try to enter or re-enter the workforce.

The demographic realities play a significant risk factor in young people falling into a cycle of unemployment. 60% of NEETS are women, and while just 3% of young people are indigenous, this percentage rises to 10% among NEETs. There is also a strong correlation between low educational attainment and struggles in entering the workforce - 37% of students who leave school in Year 10 end up not being in education, employment, or training, compared with just 11% of those with a tertiary qualification.

Watch Eliane Miles on 7 News below:

240,000 young people looking for work

Young people out of work are often stereotyped as “slackers” but in fact 41% of NEETs (238,000) are actively looking for work but unable to find a job. Helping these young people find work needs to become a national priority and a focus needs to be given to their education to employment transition. Studies tell us that the key transition in a young person’s life is from learning to earning – from study to employment. If young people are not job ready, they should be directed to a course or traineeship that will help them get job-ready. Greater collaboration between actors (schools, VET providers, tertiary providers, employment services, childcare providers, and employers) is needed, along with a broader focus on not just higher education but vocational learning.

The remaining 59% who are inactive NEETS

Questions are then most often asked about inactive NEETs – the 40% of NEETs who say they would not like a job, and the 19% who would like a job but aren’t currently looking. What is it that has discouraged them or dissuaded them from entering the workforce?

Educationally, we are seeing a significant push towards tertiary educational attainment. A generation ago in 1986, more than half of all students left school in Year 10 with most going on to start work/vocational training. Today, 9 in 10 young people go on to complete Year 12, and the majority of these enter higher education. Nationally, however, 1 in 5 university students drop out in their first year of university, clearly not being ready for the task at hand or convinced of the choice they have made.

And while we are seeing an increase in university qualifications (our predictions estimate that 1 in 2 Gen Z will have a university qualification compared to 1 in 3 Gen Ys and 1 in 4 Gen Xs), we must keep in mind that everything is not just about higher education or STEM skills. It’s about developing a broad skills base that will continue to sustain Australia’s growing economic and demographic footprint.

Challenges in the skills sector

While the VET sector has seen a 50% increase in students placed in apprenticeships since the early 2000s, the sector is also subject to significant inefficiencies. Traineeship and apprenticeship completion rates are low, qualifications are hard to navigate, some federal funding for programs has been withdrawn, and employment service providers geographically only target 60% of NEETs, leaving 200,000 youth un-serviced by employment services.

The benefits of work are more than just economic

In conversations with young people, it serves us to be reminded that jobs do more good for all of us than just money. They provide a young person with a sense of independence, self-esteem, and social connection, as well as the ability to learn and stay future-proofed. The longer that young people stay out of employment, the more they are to lose connection and become social disenfranchised, leading to greater problems.

The challenge of entry will only accelerate

As we look ahead to the next 10-15 years of Australia’s job market, we estimate that 5.1 million of Australia’s jobs will become digitally disrupted. Today’s savvy school leaver is training themselves for jobs that don’t yet exist. The reality is that new jobs which will be created are more complex than the jobs they replace. If a young person is locked out of the workforce today, it is likely that they will face an even more difficult re-entry in years ahead as the skills required to fulfilk workforce demands increase.

The challenge of financial independence will also accelerate

Commonwealth funding will increasingly become tighter. The economy has natural limits, and supporting an ageing population base and those with disabilities is naturally a more pressing national priority than supporting those who can work but are choosing not to. It’s just a matter of time before government benefits to NEETs will dry up.

Having said that, it’s also important to remember that 25% of inactive NEETs and 41% of NEETs looking for work in fact have not received any government benefits to support them. For these young people, support has largely fallen back to the informal economy, with support provided by family members and friends.

The earnings challenge for today’s emerging generation

It is in fact more financially difficult to get ahead early in life than it once was. In the 1970s, for example, when many Baby Boomers graduated from university, the average graduate starting salary was equal to the average full time adult wage, while today the average graduate starting salary of $54,000 is $26,000 less than average full time annual earnings. Student debt is also higher than ever, with more than 1 in 3 (34%) registered debt agreements belonging to 25-34 year-olds, and the average university debt estimated to be around $28,000. Today’s young generations are actually beginning their earning years in more debt than we’ve seen before. Not to mention the multi-fold increase in the cost of housing – a generation ago the average Sydney house price was 5 times annual average earnings while today the average house price is 13 times the average annual full time earnings of $80,000.

Keeping it in perspective

If young people can continue to accelerate their learning, they’ll have greater chances of success. Just 11% of bachelor-degree educated young people are still looking for full time work within 4 months of completing their course, and the strength of Australia’s economy is creating positive opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for young people to place their stamp on Australia's future.


Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth and the ageing workforce to social trends such as changing household structures and emerging lifestyle expectations, from generational change to the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.

With academic qualifications in community engagement and postgraduate studies in international development and global health, Eliane brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting. As a social researcher, she has been interviewed on these topics on prominent television programs such as National Nine News and Today, as well as on radio and in online media.

To have Eliane Miles present to your organisation on Generation Z, the state of today’s education sector, or the future world of work, contact McCrindle at info@mccrindle.com.au or call 02 8824 3422



OECD, Investing in Youth: Australia 2016

Graduate Careers Australia


Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


toys education sector shifts communities neutral bay future-proof community event James Ward housing sun Merry Christmas nativity scene leader not for profit SMSF internships Northern beaches Event future proof religion bus travel Willowdale property market australian TDE Elderslie-Harrington park growth of sydney trades capital city TEDx Speaker global financial crisis anzac sydneycity mccrindle tea 2020 office opening stats staff staying in easter identity future proofing prince george Kiwi Jura Australia quote students data visualisation Gen Z Expert belief fears professional development environmental scanning environment unaffordable giving consumerism house goals charities baby names mccrinlde Channel Seven friends goal wealth inequality capital cities friendship Deaths Love work from home seasons christian financial tea christianity property celebration average sydneysider baby boom DIY snapshot South Australia Christmas day retirement speajer Caregiver business performance perth baby names report speaker energy baby name trends mythbusting house price rise baby name marketing sector in the media names future of work household Charlotte Canberra sentiments Adelaide 10 years infographic parenting children meals McCrindle Keynote Speakers casual 2015 know the times volunteering Western Australia plans Australian demographics cartodb publication showreel happiness huffington post clothing victoria insights ultimo sunburnt country work-life hobart VIC Channel 7 investor innovative states investing meetings conference urban mother's day visual younger generations land of the middle class who is generation z Business analysis 24 million new york times educhat rule keeper entrepreneurial Wodonga royal financial independence speakers internship pharmacies ease of travel couple urban taskforce research visualisation Christmas presents suburbs teachers rain middle class shopping village holiday teleworking stay home winter monarchy Crime Rates cooking wellbeing presentation australian real estate national crime rates local community kate middleton social conferences graphs father's day Macquarie University brand Territory ethnography spirituality cash Population Clock skills google Christmas Stats social impact Bathburst choice workers February 16 Generation X Australian Communities Trends aged care puzzle digital economy train Skilling impact the changing face of trend men NFP event gen z waverton housing market generation weather ACF2017 ACF faux-ciliser student christmas trees long weekend life NEETs trends of 2016 communication cancelling event 24,000,000 in depth interviews 1968 #censusfail society trends aussie culture professional speaker gender Assistant Store Manager social researcher dreaming list community engagement IT Specialists young australians owning a home financial dreams debate Australian Home volunteering data mortgage urban living cloudy days mccrindle research Australia Day 2017 Financial Planning Association emerging technologies pharmacy Andrew Duffin poor etiquette workshop social commentary leadership unemployment education future report online world social researchers youth CPI Hornsby Shire Council thought leadership mobile survey mentor hills media engage jobs of the future follow Queensland resource winter blues group VET sector educated McCrindle Speaker recap offenders workforce high school SRE apartments System's Architect Retail ferry Valentine’s Day office the lucky country demographics urban development volunteers cultural diversity Aussies presentations program affordable national wealth Mark McCrindle food employment Gen Y population growth the hills January 26th 2013 professional presenters screenage Lower Hunter census 2016 weekly earnings finance easy rider mccrindle builders cultural diveristy report change coffee lovers property price daily commute non profit wages dream earnings commute rising house prices growing population panel gig sydney event forum PSI Australian Population crows nest gold coast events Jura Coffee results media commentary commuting sunny days social media office space mover and shaker politics Australian Dream Lower Hunter Region social research earning ACF 2016 house price ABS Royals census results public speaking research data TAS families engagement fresh manly curiosity social issues blaxland challenge TEDx donate salary employers selfie media activity award 2014 NBRS Architecture "know the times" royal baby New South Wales global generations australia pyrmont 23 million Australians storytelling baby names australia report learn low density food bank new office paying to work Australian Families keynote speaker renting Australia street collaborative university degree criminal dessert futurist research city domestic 1975 Australian Census suburban living trends of 2017 research services supply and demand budget 2012 balance home owner wage equip local crime data demographic sector wide study Sydney keynote speaker economy vegetarian marrickville future forecasting Performance Sentiment Index analysis demographic transformations ashley mckenzie sydneysiders typical australian REIV Conference 40 million 2016 census results sydney metro Australian schools average Australian youth unemployment renter of the future mining boom earn speakers pack sustainable safe repayments women care support learner car Australia Day Black Friday in Australia 1980 cancelling plans young people Scouts research pack ACT cars language breakfast economic ashley fell university Duchess of Cambridge Real Estate rent healthy future employmee focus group divorce generation Z dare to dream 1994 sydney property market workplace vegemite menai summer What is food insecurity? Engineering Manager financial planning woolworths authenticity education future visualisation hills shire Sydney’s south west social trends alpha millennials housing affordability Real Estate Institute of Victoria darwin story Mount Annan-Currant Hill digital conference speaker Sydney Hills Business Chamber networking google for education social lives socialites optus my business awards bureau Christmas research Australian Trends poker master twentyseventeen australian communities forum government employmer lifestyle family live the dream relational newspaper Australian communities sydney speaker gig economy debt study wealth and income distribution Gen X baby name predictions faith mccrindle in the media property development volunteer sydney hills church work mates Christmas season social analyst TED Maxim Accounting infographic wall census fail apartment Aussie keynote responsive growth Black Friday Sales priorities medicine state organisational culture social enquiry EFF potts point hunger faux-cilising small business cancel plans public speaker the australian dream ipswich WA Kirsten Brewer grave decision interactive national private wealth FPA transport business index business Australian community trends Christmas day weather demography donation tableau World Water Day shbc wealth and income acf15 population social commentator baby boomers princess charlotte Cobbitty-Leppington Christchurch focus groups travelling high density food insecurity cost litter ageing market research suburb the average aussie schools Work place brands Myth income click Do It Yourself Research Director Wagga Wagga ideas annual income SA public holiday dreams wedding tattoos generations New Zeland consumer affordability daily telegraph year 7 hornsby US investment townhouses sector wide seasons greetings Sydney christmas 2017 high density living GPO social life slideshare home royal influence deloitte baby nfp not-for-profit Christmas in Australia Sydney Lifestyle Study purpose chairty professional services entertainment child care cica optimistic Geoff Brailey group session trend tuesday millenials workplace culture society local communities insight statistics Financial Planning Association of Australia future of education define eliane bondi ACF17 award winner Social Trend census data holidays greatness generational trends Northern Territory 2016 census public transport SMART ageing population qualitative research sydney market Education Future Forum cold Hunter Valley Tasmania high density apartments moderators guide Hills Shire Council personalities parents Word Up community population map housing growth relevant population milestone water shopper's pick thrive Queensland: QLD research report Res Vis wolloomooloo not for profit research mythbusters communicate VET Sydney population participants proactive moreton bay changing face of sydney sydneysider australian community trends report residents wealth distribution survey design teach school satisfaction divorce rate Tuesday Trends demographer micro apartments ACT Report communications McCrindle Speakers schools students hopes teacher video the hills shire house prices research on coffee work infographics learning styles school students Northern Beaches Christian School entrepreneurs of today households living motivate brand experience millionth Generation Y overcast Financial Planning Week Tuesday Trend hello fresh forecast cost of living entrepreneur collaboration royal family Black Friday omnibus housing trends optus education research DESTEL researcher JOMO census financial fears Christmas lunch HSC TED talk Births real wealth australian communities trends report tv customer going out training internet rental stress facts data analyst event norwest trends financial future future of shopping buildings Wellington logan marriages charity social analysis NBRS innovation brisbane megatrends global retail australian social research urban living index emerging generations news Northern Beaches culturally diverse mateship teaching tuesday grandparents NSW FOMO socialising careers coffee experience learning school CBD money commuters increasing densification McCridle REIV National Conference home ownership organisations happy holidays NT leadership workshop marriage professional Melbourne aged care New Zealand personal growth australians staying home more Vocational education social shifts online shopping Christmas data shopping centre emerging trends christmas 2017 technology global education Netflix tertiary education 2016 conference presentation the great screenage tips faux-cilise career area The Daily Edition media release The ABC of XYZ resilience geomapping average aussie narcissism case study trends analyst social change Mark McCrindle in the media year 12 rich screenagers product world youth day eliane miles sports spend Australian Bureau of Statistics rise of local English culture intern gen alpha micro post rationalism jobs generation alpha demographic trends contiki Research Executive lalor park outsourcing