In 2015, reducing the proportion of the young people who were Neither in Employment, Education or Training – the NEET rate - was adopted as the SDG 8.6 target (and accompanying indicator). The NEET rate has some advantages over the youth unemployment rate as a measure of the state of youth labour markets but also raises some issues, not least because young NEETs are not necessarily participants in the labour market as traditionally understood. Young NEETs are indeed a highly heterogeneous group and being a member indicates the absence of a characteristic – specifically, the lack of a job or an educational/training opportunity – rather than the possession of one. The variety of circumstances underlying NEET status has important policy consequences and differences amongst young NEETs will affect the appropriate policy response. The obstacles facing young NEETs in accessing decent work are many and varied. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to further increases in NEET rates across the globe, exacerbating the challenges faced by the young in accessing decent work and adding urgency to the vital task of developing and refining effective ways of reducing NEET rates, above-all in low- and middle-income countries.
In this context, the chapter:
- briefly analyses the main characteristics of NEET, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, how these vary across space, time and individual characteristics, and the variety of policy issues that they raise;
- discusses, on the basis of existing evidence, different forms and levels of policy response and how they can best be combined to reduce NEET rates and promote youth employment, bearing in mind the heterogeneity of NEET status; and,
- concludes by identifying specific knowledge gaps, identifying fruitful lines of research needed to enhance the effectiveness of policy interventions to reduce NEET rates and promote access to decent work amongst the young.