What is NEET youth and why it matters

Kudrenok Tatyana
19 January 2022, 13:14

What is NEET youth and why it matters

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Unemployment among youth is one of the greatest global challenges. Addressing youth unemployment, including NEET, a term referring to young people, not in employment, education, or training, has been a priority for Kazakhstan. More about what the term stands for and why it matters is in the latest analytical article of Kazinform.

There are nearly 3.7 million young people aged 14-28 in Kazakhstan, accounting for 19.8 percent of the country’s total population.

Addressing the NEET youth has been part of the nation’s broader effort to improve its youth policy. This was also voiced by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in December 2019 when he was closing the Year of Youth in Kazakhstan.

During his address delivered in the Majilis, lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, on January 15, President Tokayev urged the government and deputies to step up efforts to reduce unemployment, particularly among young people, which have a direct impact on NEET rate.

«Graduates of universities, colleges, and especially young people without education do not always have the opportunity to find permanent jobs. We know this very well. They survive by earning odd jobs. Some may overstep the law in search of income,» said Tokayev.

What is NEET?

The term NEET was coined by British scholars in the 1990s to describe young people, who are not in employment, education, or training. The time has widely spread to shape youth policy in many countries around the world.

«The proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (the youth NEET rate) has remained stubbornly high over the past 15 years and now stands at 30 percent for young women and 13 percent for young men (together making almost 185 million young people) worldwide,» said United Nations World Youth Report 2020.

This data shows that more than 1 in 5 young people are not able to gain life skills through education or work. This, in turn, has a lasting deteriorating impact on their lives, as they are more likely to experience social and economic exclusion and more likely to be left behind.


These countries in the table have several factors in common that cause higher NEET rate (over 35 percent) - they are largely poor with average GDP per capita of $3,627, have high unemployment rates (11.4 percent, on average), and are not an easy place to do business.

Experts note a strong negative correlation between ease of doing business and NEET rate saying that «in practical terms, a business environment that is more accommodating to new start-ups and better supports the growth of existing enterprises is associated with a higher realization of youth potential in both education and employment.»

Among other factors influencing the NEET rate is also political stability, where countries with fragile political systems and more prone to conflicts are more likely to have higher NEET rates because these factors ​​add to the existing socioeconomic barriers to youth development.

According to Kazakh sociologist Aiman Zhussupova, the problem of NEET youth has been evident even before the outbreak of COVID-19.

«The pandemic, with its impact on the informal employment sector, the education system, has worsened the prospects of unemployed, out-of-school and out-of-training youth. The International Labor Organization forecasts an increase in the share of NEET youth globally, but particularly in developing countries. This sector will soon require additional budgetary expenditures, but before increasing funding for youth programs, it is important to assess the effectiveness of government measures,» she said.

NEET rate in Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, the NEET rate was steadily declining from 18.6 percent in 2001 to 7.1 percent in 2020, according to the National Statistics Bureau. In the third quarter of 2021, the rate was 6.7 percent, or nearly 250,000 people.

In the World Youth Report 2020, Kazakhstan is in the green zone of countries with the lowest NEET rates, said First Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov.


«Globally, the share of young people in the NEET category is increasing because of the coronavirus crisis. For example, according to Eurostat, the youth NEET rate in EU countries increased from 1.2 percent to 17.6 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and is projected to increase further. In OECD countries, the share of NEET youth aged 18-24 averages 14 percent. In Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, South Africa and Turkey, more than 25 percent of young people fall into this category,» said First Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov.

According to him, the implementation of a set of measures aimed at socialization and productive employment of NEET youth will be under constant control.

«A draft law on amendments and additions to some legislative acts of Kazakhstan on state youth policy has been developed. It will legally define the concept of NEET youth and replenish the set of measures regarding young people in the NEET category,« said Tugzhanov. The bill was submitted to the Majilis, a lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, at the beginning of January.

Written by Assel Satubaldina

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