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The Neets: 14 million young Europeans are neither students, nor workers, nor in training

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There are 14 million of them in Europe, aged between 15 and 29 years old and excluded from any form of education or employment. Eurofound, the European Union's study and research agency, calls them the "Neets" for "Not in Employment, Education or Training". His study, which has just been published and whose main findings are detailed in the Guardian, confirms the scale of the impact of the crisis on the younger generations in EU countries. To view the full report.

On average, the Neets make up 15.4% of their reference population (young people aged 15 to 29), but this average masks significant disparities: in Italy there are more than 35% of one generation, 22% in Ireland and only 6.6% in Luxembourg. Having a low level of education, being from an immigrant background or suffering from a disability are the three main risk factors that increase the likelihood of a young person falling into this neglected class.

22% of young people under 25 in the European Union are looking for work. 5.4 million people are concerned. In Spain and Greece, more than one in two young people are affected by unemployment. And the Eurofound study specifies that in 2011, 42% of young people in employment were employed under a temporary work contract.

This situation is costing the 26 states surveyed dearly. The costs associated with Neets have increased in Europe by 28% since the 2008 crisis. On average, the bill for setting them aside theoretically amounts to 153 billion euros per year. "If we could integrate even just 10% of the Neets, or 1.4 million people, this would represent a saving of 15 billion euros per year," says the director of the study, Massimiliano Mascherini.

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But this economic cost is not what worries the European institutions most. A survey included in the study shows that the level of political commitment and trust in leadership is much lower among the Neets than among young people in employment. As the OECD points out: "Europe is failing in its social contract with young people and growing political disenchantment could reach levels similar to those that triggered the Arab Spring in North Africa".

In France, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 is more than 22%, compared with 9.4% in the active population. "By 2020, if labour market conditions remained unchanged, France would be short 2.2 million graduates, while 2.3 million working people without a diploma would not find a job," the McKinsey Institute estimates according to 20 Minutes. Hence the need to raise the level of qualification and training of young people, concludes a report submitted in September to the Economic, Social and Environmental Council. And the contract for the future, a promise made by François Hollande and a priority of his action in favour of young people, should put 150,000 of them back into employment by 2014.

The fact remains that "nobody has yet found a way to reconcile the fight against the debt/euro crisis with a proactive employment policy", noted Catherine Bernard in a recent article in Slate.fr. "How can the accounts be put right without too much austerity and without harming activity and employment? The challenge has not yet found a miracle solution... And by default, the debt crisis takes priority. Whether they assume it or regret it, unemployment is no longer the priority of Western governments today."

(Source: ©Slate Magazine)

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