Though the overall 16-18 not in education, employment or training (NEET) rate has remained broadly stable in recent years, the graph below shows this is from the increase in 18 NEET rate being offset by decreasing rates for 16 and 17 year olds.
Two factors affect the proportion of young people NEET:
- the proportion not in any education and training (NET)
- the employment rate for young people who are NET, estimated from the Labour Force Survey
Considering the first factor, as we have seen the proportion of young people in education and training has been largely rising since around 2001, hence the size of the NET group has been tending to fall. The proportion of 16-18 year olds NET at the end of 2020 was 13.5%, the lowest rate on record.
Looking at the the second factor that influences NEET, the employment rate for the group not in education and training, the graph below shows that between the late 1990s and 2011 the general trend was for the rate to fall meaning there was a notable decline in the proportion of 16-18 year olds in employment.
Between 2011 and 2016 the employment rate of the overall 16-18 NET group rose, albeit with some fluctuations when looking at single ages. It should be noted that sample sizes in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are small for individual age cohorts, particularly when looking at a sub-group such as those who are NET, so caution should be taken when interpreting changes in the employment rate over the short term.
Compared with 2019, there have been increases in the NET employment rate for ages 16 and 17, particularly notable at age 16. However, due to relatively small numbers in employment at these younger ages, they can fluctuate considerably year on year so overall trends should be considered. The age 18 NET employment rate fell slightly in 2020 to 58.7% (-2.7ppts).