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


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