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EU neighbouring countries: Third of youth out of school and without job

Year/Date: 11/03/2014

Young people in EU neighbourhood face a tough time getting the right skills and finding jobs

Young people face a tough time getting the right skills and finding jobs. Society needs to take urgent action to save the potential of an entire generation. This was the context of the conference “Keeping young people in employment, education or training: Common challenges - shared solutions” in Bucharest on 10 and 11 March.

15 million NEETs in EU

In the EU there are more than 15 million young people 15-29 years old are out of school and do not have a job.

"This figure is deeply worrying and represent a huge waste of human talent," said Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth.

"Education and training systems need to promote supportive learning environments, focusing on the needs of individual young people, and to urgently address skills mismatches."

Need for a broader approach to youth employment

In her speech Madlen Serban, ETF director, underscored the need for  partnerships in human capital development not only at EU-level, but within the EU external policies. She presented the situation of NEETs in the countries neighbouring the EU.

Interview with Madlen Serban in the Romanian public TVR1 (in Romanian)

"The focus on unemployed youth underestimates the extent of their potential vulnerability, it is important to expand the focus to all those young people not in education, training or employment," said Ms Serban. "Only by doing this, we can create policies in response to the critical problems for different groups of youth."

The concept of NEETs refers to young people (15-29 or 15-24 years old). These young people are considered ‘at risk’ as they are jobless or inactive, and lack access to learning opportunities. They also risk disengagement from the labour market and often from society in general.

EU neighbours: Invisible NEETs

The percentage of NEETs in all partner countries is almost double the EU average – accounting for around 30% of the youth population aged 15 - 29.

NEETs in the EU neighbourhood


There are diverse sub-groups within NEETs. Unemployed young people account for the largest subgroup. Other highly vulnerable subgroups - the inactive, family carers, discouraged workers and disabled people - are often not considered in analyses. They are almost “invisible” in statistics, and subsequently receive less attention from policy makers.

Ensuring that NEETs become more visible in the political agenda of ETF partner countries, can encourage governments to develop new policy interventions targeting youth who have been excluded from education, training and employment.

What can be done to help NEETs

  • Preventive measures are usually aimed at discouraging early school leaving (for instance raising the school leaving age), at providing alternative and innovative teaching methods and at improving the quality and relevance of education (in particular VET) systems.
  • Reintegration measures include all measures aimed at providing young people with the possibility to re-enter the education system or at facilitating their entry into the labour market. They can include tracking services to identify, support and monitor inactive young people, second chance opportunities, distance learning opportunities and validating informal learning
  • Measures targeting NEET women include affordable child and elderly care or flexible work arrangements.
  • Compensation measures direct financial support to workers, allowances to cover the cost of living while participating in certain learning opportunities, financial benefits to employers for the recruitment of particularly disadvantaged categories and other similar initiatives.

The conference in Bucharest was held under the auspices of the Romanian government, in cooperation with the European Commission.


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