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


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