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Here there be NEETs.

Friday, November 04, 2011
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Regional unemployment is seen as a significant economic problem, but employers may be reluctant to relocate if the educational quality of the workforce is below par. The term NEET refers to young people Not in Education, Training and Employment, and it appears that there are significant pockets of NEETs across the mainland of Great Britain.

The graphic on the BBC website highlights a swathe of Northern England across from Blackpool, to Liverpool , Blackburn, Rochdale and Barnsley, Hull, Grimsby to Wigan and Ellesmere Port areas with up to 20% rates of non-participation.”  Other areas with low participation levels include Glasgow, Swansea and Newcastle. Many of these districts were associated with declining industries of coal mining, cotton and textile milling, and iron and steel manufacturing a generation ago.  Is the rise of the NEET associated with patchy records in regional policy, and regeneration? What the figures do not make clear, is the lack of participation ratio for boys higher than those for girls.

Participation levels of 86% are recorded in York, Aberdeen, Bristol, Bournemouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham and Edinburgh. Students may forget that although London and the South East is a comparatively strong regional economy, “NEET rates greater than 20% persist in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Westminster.” There is a broad West : East divide in London.

NEETS blackspots

Are areas with high percentages of NEETs ones with high levels of male unemployment, or districts with lower levels of business start up or inward investment?

Is the rise of the NEET an indication of limitations in supply side policy, governments have altered the curriculum, raised the school leaving, encouraged the expansion of universities and colleges, yet there is a non working, non studying class out there.

Students could consider which policy options could be used to raise the participation levels and compare their ideas with those of the report’s author. Should there be more or less intervention by the State to deal with the problem or not.

Long term effects mentioned by Neil Lee in his report for The Work Foundation. “For a young person, being out of education, employment or training can have major ramifications, including long-term reductions in wages and increased chances of unemployment later in life, as well as social or psychological problems arising as a result of sustained unemployment.“

The report points out the NEET is not a new phenomenon. “Since the mid-1980s, NEET rates have actually been decreasing in England. As participation in education expanded, and as the economy improved, the number of young people who were NEET slowly began to fall. Historical labour force survey data shows that NEET rates were much higher in the 1980s than today; over 18 per cent of 16-18 year olds were NEET in the mid 1980s. Now, only 9.8 per cent are.

Yet the recession saw NEET rates begin to rise. Young people are often cheaper to make redundant, and have had less time to develop the skills that employers value. A lack of entry level jobs restricts the ability of young people to enter the labour market. This means that young people often experience the worst effects of recessions.”

The Work Foundation report’s can be downloaded here.

As a word of warning, the data is based on LFS surveys from 2009 and 2010, and is a snapshot of what has happened. It may be that some districts now have now worse levels of youth unemployment.

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