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


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