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EUROSTAT: Understanding young European’s activity patterns – employment, education or neither?

Europe’s youth representing about 17% of the population, faces diverse education and employment situations that vary significantly across member states and by age group. Answering the key question ‘what are young people doing in the EU?’, newest findings look at the clear shift from the world of education to the world of employment, and resulting patterns that 90 million aged 15-29 face at different life stages. The data for 2015 shows that the situation of a young person pursuing education, employment, both or neither correlates with the age group or life stage he/she current places in:

  • A majority of those in the age range 15- 19 were found to follow education
  • Conversely those aged 25-29 were mostly in employment
  • Those young people in the middle ranges (20-24) evenly distributed across both employment and education, almost 17% working alongside studies.

Particular consideration needs to be given to those young Europeans neither in employment nor in education or training - titled NEET.  Findings show that the chances of becoming NEET increase considerably with age, and by now affects almost 1 in 5 (19,7%) young persons aged 25-29. For the median age group 20-24, the likelihood of placing in a NEET position triples (17.3%) compared to their younger peers (aged 15-19). The situations significantly vary across members states, Italy and Greece with the largest share of NEET aged 20-24, in contrast to the Netherlands and Luxemburg with the lowest rates. Germany and Bulgaria have achieved the greatest drop in NEET rate across the union, where on the other hand countries as Greece, Italy and Spain have seen notable increases in youth left ‘idle’. Although the rates of young Europeans neither in employment or education over the years show a rather stable picture at EU level, it may not come as a surprise though what lies beneath, at the national level reveals a different picture – getting close to two thirds of member states (18) facing an increasingly deteriorating situation over the last decade in securing those aged 20-24 in employment or education.

In the frame of the International Youth Day, held this August, accompanying these insights into education and employment patters, a special report discussing reasons and causes for a diversity of young people challenged by a NEET position has been published by Eurofund. 

With almost 5 million young Europeans in their early twenties not in a learning or work engagement, or further developing their competence profiles, new ways to comprehensively understand these economic and socially vulnerable situations will be valuable, as well as the relation of an emerging NEET generation to an ongoing European debate on skills and competency gaps.