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


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