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NEET also neet or Neet

noun [countable]

not in education, employment or training: a young person who has left full-time education and is not working or training

'I ardently hope, however, that this is not a sign (as again the report implies) that I am destined to become a NEET, a teenage mother and a single parent to boot.'

The Telegraph 2nd September 2009

'A sporting chance for neets at Stoke City football club … Can a football club reach out to young people who have dropped out of education?'

The Guardian 8th September 2009

'A quarter of all those claiming unemployment benefit in Gloucestershire are now aged 18–24 – some 3,000 people. Many of those are Neets – youngsters who are not in education, employment or training.'

The Forester, Gloucestershire 16th September 2009

According to official figures published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in August 2009, the number of young people out of work, education or training in the UK rose by 16 per cent in the past year. This amounts to 959,000 16–24 year olds – an equivalent of one in six young people – who are now classified as NEETs.

being a NEET between the ages of 16 and 18 can be a major predictor of later unemployment, low income, teenage motherhood, depression and poor physical health

The term NEET, also commonly occurring in lower case form as neet or Neet, is an acronym of not in education, employment or training, and refers to a young person aged between 16 and 24 who has left school and/or college but has failed to secure a job or placement in some kind of vocational training. In the current climate of economic downturn, the UK has seen a sharp rise in the number of NEETs, particularly in the 16 to 18 age range. According to the DSCF, being a NEET between the ages of 16 and 18 can be a major predictor of later unemployment, low income, teenage motherhood, depression and poor physical health.

Recent figures suggest that the number of NEETs in the UK has hit record levels, with more here than in any other country except for Brazil, Spain, Turkey and Israel. In a climate of recession, a contributing factor has been a rise in the number of graduates who, failing to secure employment or training in their preferred profession, compete for jobs which would conventionally have been given to young people with fewer qualifications.

In an effort to combat the growing number of NEETs, in 2007 the UK government launched what it referred to as the September Guarantee, which guarantees 16- and 17-year-olds a place in education or training after they have completed their compulsory education. Plans to develop this policy further include a guarantee of work, education or training for young people who have been out of work for a year or more. Critics however claim that the government has failed to get a grip on the crisis, with the potential for what they describe as a lost generation of young people who are unable to get the skills and employment opportunities they need.

Background of NEET

The acronym NEET as a classification of young people who are not in education, employment or training has been around since the late nineties, notably discussed in a UK government report published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2000. Its usage has subsequently spread to other countries, in particular Japan.

Like many successful acronyms, NEET has lodged itself in public consciousness by being a homophone of an established word (i.e. adjective neat). Though usually occurring as a countable noun, NEET is sometimes used as an adjective and can occur in both attributive and predicative position, as illustrated in the following citation from Jim Knight, current UK Employment Minister:

'Not all Neet young people are unemployed – they may be taking a gap year or break from study, volunteering, be caring for family, or simply be between jobs or courses. Only around one percent of young people are Neet at 16, 17 and 18.'

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 30th September 2009.

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