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


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