1369152_87957483The NFER analysis of Youth Cohort Study data* has categorised NEETs into three distinct groups in terms of their attitudes to education and future employment and the likelihood of their re-engaging. The groups are characterised as:

Open to learning’ (41%): typically these are young people who have made what have proven to be poor choices in terms of progression, have dropped out, but would be keen to take up a more suitable opportunity. Many have achieved Level 2 qualifications. They are typically more positive about their educational experiences and optimistic about future job prospects than the other NEET sub-groups.

Undecided’ (22%): these young people are unable to make up their minds about what they want to do, or are unable to access the type of provision they want to pursue in the area where they live. This group represented the smallest of the three categories. Typically they exhibit negative attitudes to school and the provision now available to them and often they appear to lack the resilience or skills to access suitable opportunities. Some 60% of this group in the Youth Cohort Study were still in the NEETs cohort after a year, compared with around 30% who had re-engaged in education or training, although many could be expected to find their way into jobs over time.

Sustained’ (38%): these young people could be regarded as having classic characteristics of young people who are NEET, including coming from deprived backgrounds, no recent history of employment; low educational attainment; and very negative experiences of school, including a record of truanting in many cases.

Some 60% were still in the NEETs cohort after a year, although some may have short-term experience of jobs without training. This NFER Youth Cohort Study analysis implies that a maximum of some 60% of those classified as NEETs would be likely to remain in this category for any length of time.

The study shows that the NEETs cohort is far from a homogeneous group. Most of the young people said they were keen to engage in some form of education or training (including many in the ‘sustained’ category), although often the type of provision they aspired to was not available to them.

Arguably one of the main policy challenges was to determine what could be done before the age of 16 to reduce the risk of these young people becoming disillusioned with the education system in the first place.


*Spielhofer, T., Benton, T., Evans, K., Featherstone, G., Golden, S., Nelson, J. and Smith, P. (2009). Increasing participation: understanding young people who do not participate in education or training at 16 or 17. NFER

Taken from “Tackling the NEET’s problem” Published by LSN 2009