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


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