Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. /
24 February 2011

The rise and rise of the Neets

Nearly a million young people are not in education, work or training, according to new Department fo

By Duncan Robinson

The number of young people not in education, work or training has now reached 938,000, according to figures released today by the Department for Education. The so-called “Neets” amount to 15.6 per cent of all 16-to-24-year-olds. The think tank Demos has warned that the number could reach 1.2 million within the next five years.

The depressing news should come as no surprise to readers of the New Statesman. Professor David Blanchflower has written consistently on the topic for the past two years. In last week’s magazine, he explored the root causes of the jobless generation.

The main explanation for rising youth unemployment between 2000 and 2008 is on the supply side. The number of youngsters between 16 and 24 increased from about 6.26 million in January 2000 to 7.36 million in June 2009. It fell back slightly in November 2010, to 7.34 million.

Elsewhere in the issue, Sophie Elmhirst headed to Brownhills, near Wolverhampton, in one of the worst-affected areas, to find out what life is like for members of the “lost generation”.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Today, more than one in five people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are looking for a job cannot find one. On the high street, a long strip of shops (Lidl, Tesco, Greggs, Nails 4 U, Value 4 Pound, Save-N-Save) is broken up by the squat Brownhills Excelsior Spiritualist Church; next to it is the jobcentre. Outside, leaning against the railings and listening to music, are Jade, 18, and Chrystal, 20. They laugh when I ask them how their job-hunt is going. “It’s crap,” Jade says. “There’s nothing there.” At college, she trained to be a nurse and Chrystal to be a mental health worker, but neither can find employment. Jade, who has been jobless for six months, comes to the jobcentre every two weeks to sign on and look for work.

The pair go wherever they can to ask for work. They travel by bus to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham. They go to shops and offices, dropping off their CVs, but people tell them that they are too young or that they don’t have any experience. But they can’t get experience because they can’t get the work.

To subscribe to the magazine, click here.