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


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