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


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