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


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