Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), UK: August 2021

Estimates of young people (aged 16 to 24 years) who are not in education, employment or training, by age and sex.

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Contact:
Email Bob Watson

Release date:
26 August 2021

Next release:
25 November 2021

1. Main points

  • There continues to be a strong fall in the number of people aged 16 to 24 years who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), driven largely by those aged 18 to 24 years; there is a rise in young people in full time education whilst the total number of young people is decreasing, these factors have contributed to the fall we observed in recent periods.

  • There were an estimated 631,000 young people in the UK who were NEET in April to June 2021, which is a record low; the number had decreased by 104,000 compared with January to March 2021, a record fall, and was down 144,000 compared with April to June 2020, again a record fall.

  • There were an estimated 290,000 women aged 16 to 24 years who were NEET in April to June 2021, a record low.

  • The percentage of all young people who were NEET in April to June 2021 was estimated at 9.3%, which is a record low; the proportion was down 1.5 percentage points compared with January to March 2021 and down 1.8 percentage points compared with before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in October to December 2019.

  • Of all young people in the UK who were NEET in April to June 2021, an estimated 44.4% were looking for, and available for work and therefore classified as unemployed; the remainder were either not looking for work and/or not available for work and were classified as economically inactive.

  • The estimated number of people who were NEET and economically inactive April to June 2021 was 351,000, a record low.

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2. Coronavirus and measuring the labour market

Latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates are based on interviews that took place from April to June 2021. Interviews relate to the period when a number of the government lockdown measures were reintroduced, but there was also some easing of restrictions towards the end of the period.

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the suspension of face-to-face interviewing, we have to make operational changes to the LFS, which moved to a "by telephone" approach. More information can be found in Coronavirus and its impact on the Labour Force Survey.

LFS responses published from 15 July 2021 have been reweighted to new populations using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI), to allow for different trends during the coronavirus pandemic. The reweighting gives improved estimates of both rates and levels.

An article published on 17 May 2021 describes the new LFS weighting methodology which has been applied to results from July 2021.

Subnational estimates of those not in education, employment or training (NEET) are not published by Office for National Statistics but can be accessed by following the links in section 8 of this bulletin.

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3. Total young people not in education, employment or training

In April to June 2021, an estimated 9.3% of all people aged 16 to 24 years were not in education, employment or training (NEET), a record low for the series which began in October to December 2001. The proportion decreased on the quarter by 1.5 percentage points, and decreased by 2.0 percentage points compared with April to June 2020. An estimated 9.8% of men were NEET, and for women the proportion was a record low of 8.7%.

The percentage of those aged 18 to 24 years who were NEET was a record low of 10.8% (577,000 people), which was down a record 2.0 percentage points on the quarter.

There were an estimated 631,000 young people in the UK who were NEET, which is the lowest since records began. This was down on the previous quarter by 104,000, a record fall, and down a record 144,000 when compared with April to June 2020. Of the 631,000 people who were NEET, 341,000 were men, the lowest since January to March 2002, and 290,000 were women (a record low for the series).

Unemployed young people who were not in education, employment or training

In April to June 2021, there were an estimated 280,000 unemployed young people who were NEET, (a record low), down 42,000 from January to March 2021 and down 25,000 compared with April to June 2020.

Economically inactive young people who were not in education, employment or training

In April to June 2021, there were an estimated 351,000 economically inactive young people who were NEET, which was a record low. This was down 62,000 from January to March 2021 and down 119,000 compared with April to June 2020. There were 179,000 economically inactive women who were NEET (a record low), down 18,000 on the quarter.

Young people have been affected the most during the pandemic though the latest NEET figures continue to show a fall. Some of this can be attributed to a decrease in the number of young people, an increase in the number of young people joining full time education, and to an increase in the number of people who said that they were employed but were away from work and had not been paid.

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4. Young people not in education, employment or training data

Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Quarterly estimates for young people (aged 16 to 24 years) who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the UK.

Sampling variability for estimates of young people not in education, employment or training
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Labour Force Survey sampling quarterly variability estimates for young people (aged 16 to 24 years) who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the UK.

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5. Glossary

Young people

For this release, young people are defined as those aged 16 to 24 years. Estimates are also produced for the age groups 16 to 17 years and 18 to 24 years by sex, and separately for the age groups 18 to 20 years, 21 to 22 years and 23 to 24 years.

Education and training

People are considered to be in education or training if any of the following apply:

  • they are enrolled on an education course and are still attending or waiting for term to start or restart
  • they are doing an apprenticeship
  • they are on a government-supported employment or training programme
  • they are working or studying towards a qualification
  • they have had job-related training or education in the last four weeks

Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

Anybody who is not in any of the forms of education or training listed above and not in employment is considered to be NEET. Consequently, a person identified as NEET will always be either unemployed or economically inactive.

Economic inactivity

People not in the labour force (also known as economically inactive) are not in employment but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment because they have not been seeking work within the last four weeks and/or they are unable to start work in the next two weeks.

Employment

Employment measures the number of people in paid work, or those who had a job that they were temporarily away from (for example, because they were on holiday or off sick). This differs from the number of jobs because some people have more than one job.

Unemployment

Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks.

A more detailed glossary is available.

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6. Measuring the data

This statistical bulletin contains estimates for young people who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the UK. The bulletin is published quarterly in February or March, May, August and November. All estimates discussed in this statistical bulletin are for the UK and are seasonally adjusted.

Statistics in this bulletin are used to help monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Explore the UK data on our SDGs reporting platform.

An article called Young people who are NEET providing background information is available. The article explains how missing information for identifying someone as NEET is appropriated based on individual characteristics.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) QMI.

The LFS performance and quality monitoring reports provide data on response rates and other quality-related issues for the LFS.

The Office for National Statistics is responsible for NEET statistics for the UK, published within this release. Estimates of the number of young people who are NEET within the countries of the UK and for subnational areas are the responsibility of the Department for Education, for England, and the devolved administrations for each of the other countries. Further information on the availability of subnational estimates of young people who are NEET is available in Section 8.

Coronavirus

For more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the article published on 6 May 2020, which details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates.

An article published on 11 December 2020 compares our labour market data sources and discusses some of the main differences.

Relationship to other labour market statistics for young people

Our monthly Labour market statistical bulletin includes the dataset A06: Educational status and labour market status for people aged from 16 to 24 years. The NEET statistics and the dataset A06 statistics are both derived from the LFS and use the same labour market statuses; however, the educational statuses are derived differently.

For dataset A06, the educational status is based on participation in full-time education only. For NEET statistics, the educational status is based on any form of education or training. Therefore, the dataset A06 category "not in full-time education" includes some people who are in part-time education and/or some form of training and who, consequently, should not be regarded as NEET.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The figures in this bulletin come from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. As the number of people available in the sample gets smaller, the variability of the estimates that we can make from that sample size gets larger. In general, changes in the numbers and rates reported in this bulletin between three-month periods are small and are not usually greater than can be explained by sampling variability.

Dataset table NEET 2 shows sampling variabilities for estimates of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) derived from the LFS.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Bob Watson
labour.supply@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1633 455070