Young people were hit especially hard by the economic impact of the pandemic. In March 2021, young people accounted for around two thirds of the total fall in employment since the start of the pandemic, and youth unemployment was almost four times higher than the rest of the working-age population. However, following an overall labour market recovery, the challenge is now quite different. The UK faces a recruitment crisis, with employers struggling to hire the staff they need for vital jobs. Despite record levels of job vacancies, employment rates are lower than pre-pandemic and levels of economic inactivity (people not involved in the labour market) have risen.
Although the UK’s NEET (not in education, employment or training) rate has recovered from its post-pandemic peak, the number of NEET young people who are economically inactive (not looking for work) continues to rise despite the job vacancies. This means that there is a growing, potentially untapped, resource of young people who risk being locked out of opportunities with long-term costs for them and the country.
This report investigates the characteristics, circumstances and challenges faced by young people who are NEET – both those who are economically inactive and those who are seeking employment, but have been unable to secure jobs.