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


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