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


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