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


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