NEET (Not in Employment nor Education and Training)

NEET : a social emergency

Neet: Youth not in Employment, Education or Training

One of society’s biggest challenges is dealing with changes in the labor market. An increasing number of people are struggling to find a place in the world, either starting a family or a career. As a father, and as a teacher, working especially with teenagers and young adults, what I feel is a total happiness drop.

The NEET phenomenon

One of the extremes is represented by the “NEET” (Neither in Employment nor Education and Training), young people between 15 and 34 who “lost their way” in the transition from school to work and who are not studying, working, or in a training pathway.

NEET youth have often been associated with problems of unemployment, discouragement, marginalization, and their intersection. The EU average is around 11 percent and the target is to drop below 9 percent by 2030.

Unfortunately, the situation in Italy is worse, with a percentage among the highest in Europe, touching peaks of 25.2 percent in the 25-29 group.

In the 20-24 group NEETs are one in five and one in ten in the 15-19 group. For girls and women, the risk is between 3 to 5 percentage points higher for each group.

The COVID pandemic

The problem increased after the COVID pandemic, especially among people who have attended the last years of education in lockdown, experiencing a difficult transition between school and work.

But it is not a problem of qualification. A lot of people who hold a high educational qualification and are available for work, do not find a match between their skills and those required by the labor market.

So, the phenomenon roots can be reduced to two main factors:

  • the conditions of disadvantage acquired over time, particularly in the educational sphere (influenced by family, school, and lack of integration in the social context);
  • the so-called disaffection, the attitudes young people have toward education and training.

How to counter the social emergency

The European Commission and governments are focusing their efforts on recognizing the NEET phenomenon as an issue of community importance. Indeed, being excluded from both the labor market and the education system increases the risk of social exclusion and the likelihood of engaging in antisocial behavior. Knowing and studying who is most vulnerable to the phenomenon allows for better planning of future strategies to prevent and recover those who fall into this spiral. In this case, education proves to be a very important protective factor.

Special solutions for those in need

A serious revolution starts in families and schools, especially at a young age.

To avoid marginalization, it is necessary to provide a stable, effective network of family, social, and friendship support. Families play a big role, obviously, but unfortunately, sometimes parents can’t find time to be with their kids. In this way, they grow without someone helping them to find their path.

To support parents, it will be important to plan territorial and local interventions, to reach and engage young people, intercepting the ones at “NEET risk”. We need to help them not only to imagine themselves in 5 to 20 years because maybe their future job doesn’t exist yet. Instead, it is better to transmit the right inputs to understand how to create their future, starting with educating communities and schools.

Mental health is also important. Allowing kids and exposing them to failure and weakness since they are young, will prepare them better for life.

Growing up in a super safe environment is as dangerous as leaving them alone, for opposite reasons.

Matteo Felici

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