Calendar year 2021

NEET age 16 to 24

Headline facts and figures - 2021

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Supplementary tables

Analysis of the latest trends are provided in the sections below. The following supplementary tables provide the headline figures. You can explore the data further and build your own tables with our online table tool builder from the “Explore data and files” section above.

About these statistics

These statistics are based on quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) data. They provide estimates of young people: not in education, employment or training (NEET) and not in education or training (NET). 

The NEET and NET rates both capture young people who are not in education or training. However, NEET also captures those young people not in employment. Employment has a larger impact on NEET rates for those post compulsory education age (18+) as many are active in the labour market.

The statistics cover 16-24 year olds in England, together with other age breakdowns within that bracket e.g. 16-17 and 18-24 year olds. Estimates are based on academic age, defined as ‘age at the start of the academic year’ i.e. age as at 31 August. They also include some breakdowns by:

  • gender
  • labour market status
  • region

These statistics should be used to see latest trends in NEET rates for 16-24 year olds. Trends are assessed by comparing the latest quarter’s data with the same period in an earlier year to account for seasonal effects.

Data is provided up to and including October to December 2021. 

As quarter four (October to December) 2021 is the latest data available and the first full quarter of the 2021/22 academic year, commentary in this release focuses mainly on this quarter. 

In July 2021, a new weighting variable was introduced by the Office for National Statistics to LFS datasets from January to March 2020. This latest weight uses updated population data to better reflect changes in international migration and other impacts as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This reweighting exercise had minimal impact on NEET rates at ages 16 to 24, although it does mean that when comparing 2020 rates from the previous NEET publication to the current publication, small differences can be seen. More information about the impact of the reweighting in light of the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the methodology document.

See 'Other NEET sources' section for further information on related statistics on:


We would welcome feedback on any aspect of this publication at

Not in education, employment or training (NEET) rates by age

Between October to December 2020 and 2021, the proportion NEET:

  •  decreased for the overall 16-24 age group to  10.5%, the lowest rate in the series.  This decrease is statistically significant.  
  • decreased for the 18-24 age group, and although not statistically significant, the rate is the lowest in the series at 12.6%. 
  • remained stable for the 16-17 age group, increasing by just 0.1 percentage points to 3.0% following a record low in 2020.

The proportion NEET varies by age:

  • since 2013, those aged 16 and 17 are required to remain in education or training (under Raising Participation Age (RPA) legislation) and therefore have a lower NEET rate of 3.0%. The 16-17 NEET rate has decreased by over two thirds compared with October to December 2005, the series peak.
  • compared with 16-17 year olds those aged 18-24, who won’t be subject to RPA, have a NEET rate over four times higher at 12.6%. Many of this group are no longer in education and are instead in the labour market. Consequently, those not in employment contribute to a higher NEET rate.

NEET rates for the older age groups increased both during and immediately after the most recent recession. During a recession, less economic activity takes place and so there are fewer jobs available and more redundancies, increasing the number NEET. Both the latest 16-24 and 18-24 NEET rates have fallen by around a third compared with October to December 2011, the series peak following the recession.


NEET rate by age in England, October to December, 2019 to 2021  

 Academic age (age as at 31st August)Oct to Dec 2019Oct to Dec 2020Oct to Dec 202195% confidence interval for Oct to Dec 2021[1] (percentage points)Annual change from Oct-Dec 2020 to 2021 (percentage points, statistically significant changes in bold[2])
Ages 16-174.5%2.9%3.0%+/- 0.9pp0.1pp
Ages 16-187.5%6.0%4.7%+/- 0.9pp-1.3pp
Ages 18-2413.0%14.2%12.6%+/- 1.1pp-1.6pp
Ages 19-2413.0%14.4%13.2%+/- 1.2pp-1.2pp
Ages 16-2411.3%11.8%10.5%+/- 0.9pp-1.3pp

[1] For sample-based data, which estimate the true population value rather than giving an exact measure, confidence intervals give an indication of how precise the estimates are. If confidence intervals are at the 95% level, like in these instances, we can be 95% sure that the true value of the population lies within the ranges specified. It should be noted that sample sizes in the Labour Force Survey are small for individual age cohorts so these estimates are subject to higher margins of error. Caution should be taken when interpreting changes over the short term, particularly for individual age cohorts. 

[2] If a comparison between two estimates is statistically significant, we can be 95% sure that the change reflects reality and is not attributable to chance.

Not in education or training (NET) rates by age

Between October to December 2020 and 2021, the proportion not in education or training (NET) for the overall 16-24 and 18-24 age groups both show statistically significant decreases.  Both are series lows in 2021 meaning more young people are participating in education and training than we have seen previously.

The NET rate for 16-17 year olds has remained fairly stable, just a small increase on the 2020 rate which was a series low.  

The proportion not in education or training (NET):

  • for the overall 16-24 age group has remained fairly stable until this year when a statistically significant decrease has led to the lowest rate in the series at 39.8% 
  • for 16-17 year olds has decreased by just over three quarters since October to December 2001, the series peak.
  • for the older age group (18-24) , as with overall 16-24, there has been a statistically significant decrease which has led to the lowest rate in the series at 49.8%.

Reasons NEET (overall age 16-24)

The labour market status of young people NEET has changed over time.

Looking at the timeseries, the unemployment rate increased for 16-24 year olds in the years following the 2008/2009 recession, peaking in 2011. This proportion had fallen and remained broadly stable until 2020 when it increased, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall unemployment rate for the 16-24 year old population decreased in 2021 to the lowest rate in this series at 4.1% (or 39.2% of the total proportion of 16-24 NEET).

Since 2014, more young people have been NEET due to economic inactivity than due to being unemployed. Latest figures show that over 60% of young people NEET are economically inactive, meaning they are not unemployed and actively seeking work.

In 2021, of those 16-24 NEET :

  • almost 40% were unemployed, including just over 15% being unemployed for more than 6 months.
  • nearly a quarter were inactive due to being ‘long term or temporarily sick’. This has increased from 2012 when this was just one in ten.
  • the main reason for inactivity being ‘other reason’, which will include those waiting for education or employment to start or not wanting to participate, contributes to just over a quarter of all 16-24 NEETS.
  • the proportion with main reason for inactivity being ‘looking after family or home’ saw a large decrease in 2020 from 17% to just under 10%. As recently as 2014 we have seen as many as 1 in 4 NEET for this reason. Latest estimates show the proportion has remained fairly small in 2021, with again just one in ten of the 16-24 NEET population being inactive and reporting the reason as ‘looking after family or home’. 

The following analysis uses Annual Population Survey (APS) data covering the twelve month period from October to September for the years 2012 to 2021.

NEET rates differ slightly using the APS and LFS (APS NEET rate for 16-24 year olds was 11.3%, compared with 10.9% over the same period from the LFS ). Due to larger sample sizes in the APS we use this data when looking at specific groups in the population.

The proportion of the overall 16-24 population with a health condition has increased slightly in recent years, and there is an increasing proportion of those 16-24 NEET reporting a health condition.

In 2021 those NEET were almost twice as likely to have a health problem than the overall 16-24 population (46.7% and 24.5% respectively).

Looking specifically at mental health conditions, the proportion of the 16-24 NEET population with such a condition has almost tripled from 7.7% in 2012 to 21.3% in 2021. The conditions reported include depression, bad nerves, anxiety, mental illness, or suffering from phobia, panics or other nervous disorders.

Despite the overall 16-24 NEET rate having fallen since 2012, the proportion of the 16-24 population NEET with mental health conditions has shown a general increase from 2012 to 2021, as seen in Figure 5. 

Latest estimates show 1 in 5 of those NEET have a mental health condition compared with just over 1 in 12 in 2012. 

NEET rate by gender (overall age 16-24)

Historic trends have shown that females have had higher NEET rates than males, however since 2020 females have had notably lower NEET rate. In 2021, this trend continued although the NEET gender gap has narrowed.  

The female NEET rate continues to fall and is now at its lowest recorded rate in the series at 9.1%. 

The NEET rate for males has fallen in the latest year to 11.8% following a significant increase at the end of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As shown in figure 7, in October to December 2021 the proportion of the 16-24 population :

  • in short and long term unemployment has decreased for both males and females.
  • who were inactive due to ‘long-term or temporarily sick’ has increased for both males and females.

There are however some gender differences in the main reason for being NEET: 

  • females are still more likely to be NEET due to ‘looking after family/home’ than males (2.0% compared with 0.3% of their respective populations). However, in the last few years there has been a decline and females are now half as likely to be NEET for this reason than in 2018. 
  • a higher proportion of males are unemployed than females (5.1% compared with 3.0% of their respective populations)
  • overall age 16-24 male inactivity rate is the highest in the series (6.6% of population). 

NEET rate by region (overall age 16-24)

Note: Regional estimates have larger error margins due to smaller sample sizes, resulting in wider confidence intervals of between +/-2.0 percentage points in the South East and +/-3.7 percentage points in the North East. This means caution should be taken when interpreting the figures.

There are notable differences in the NEET rates across the country as shown in Figure 8.

For 16-24 year olds in October to December 2021:

  • The North East had the highest NEET rate of all the regions at 11.7%, however, the rate is the lowest in the series for the North East. 
  • The South East has the lowest NEET rate at 9.6%.

There were no statistically significant changes in the NEET rate for the regional data.

Seasonal effects

NEET rates exhibit seasonal patterns that tend to reflect the academic year: typically there are lower rates in autumn (October to December) followed by a gradual rise in spring and early summer (January to June) with a peak in late summer (July to September). 

Figure 9 shows the quarterly NEET estimates since 2010 and demonstrates these seasonal effects.

Other NEET sources

Users should be aware that figures for young people who are NEET and NET are published in other statistics releases. The table below provides a summary of the four related releases and gives information on their content.

TitleParticipation in education, training and employmentNEET aged 16 to 24Young people NEETLocal authority NEET and participation
ProducerDepartment for EducationDepartment for EducationOffice for National StatisticsDepartment for Education
StatusNational StatisticNational StatisticNational StatisticTransparency data
Age range16-1816-2416-2416-17
Age typeAcademic age[1]Academic age[1]Actual ageAcademic age[1]
Regional breakdownsNoYesNoYes
LA breakdownNoNoNoYes
Data typeMostly administrativeSurveySurveyManagement information
Frequency of publicationAnnuallyAnnuallyQuarterlyAnnually
Seasonally adjustedNoNoYesNo
When to use?[2]England NEET (and participation) figures, age 16-18England/regional NEET figures, age 16-24 (includes reasons NEET) UK NEET figures, age 16-24 (published quarterly so often most timely)LA/regional NEET (and participation) figures, age 16-17 (includes pupil characteristics) 

[1] Academic age is defined as ‘age at the start of the academic year’ i.e. age as at 31 August. Actual age is defined as ‘respondents age at the time surveyed’.

[2] Left to right indicates recommended order of preference in which the statistics should be used based on most users’ needs and robustness of the data.  

Participation in education, training and employment 

Participation in education, training and employment statistics are DfE’s (Department for Education’s) definitive statistics on participation, NEET and NET for the 16-18 age group. As these estimates are based on administrative data, they are considered the most robust available. The estimates relate to a snapshot of activities at the end of the calendar year,

DfE’s October to December NEET/NET estimates using the Labour Force Survey (usually published February/March each year) are indicative of the end of year NEET/NET figures in the Participation release (usually published June each year). Figure 10 shows how estimates from the two sources have compared since 2000.

The next Participation statistics, covering the period end 2021, are scheduled to be published in summer 2022. 

Local authority NEET and participation

Age 16-17 regional and local authority NEET estimates are published annually by DfE as transparency data. Figures on NEETs are provided as an average of December, January and February.  This information comes from local authorities NCCIS systems (National Client Caseload Information System) .

Some caution should be taken if using the NCCIS figures. This is due to the estimates being based on management information which means they are not produced to the same standards as official/National statistics. Also, the NCCIS figures include ‘not known’ activity, which results in some overestimation of NEET, as can be seen in the chart when comparing the NCCIS figures to the LFS and participation figures.

The proportion of those aged 16/17 whose activities are ‘not known’ varies at local authority/regional level and between years so particular caution should be taken when making geographic and/or time-series comparisons.

Young People NEET (ONS)

Users should also be aware of the ONS (Office for National Statistics) release: Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), UK - Office for National Statistics (

Whilst they are based on the same quarterly LFS data, the NEET and NET figures in the DfE release differ from those in the ONS release due to coverage and methodological differences as shown in the “Other NEET sources” table above.

The headline ONS figures are seasonally adjusted whilst the DfE figures are not and this accounts for most of the differences. The respective use of academic age (DfE) and actual age (ONS) has little impact at overall age 16-24 (but is more notable at the younger 16/17 age group). Whilst the ONS and DfE figures are based on UK and England respectively, this only accounts for a small degree of variation[3] as the UK figures are primarily driven by England. 


[3]The ONS seasonally adjusted 16-24 UK NEET figure for October to December 2021 was 10.2%, compared with the DfE (non-seasonally adjusted) 16-24 England NEET figure of 10.5%, a difference of 0.3 percentage points.

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