The number of Gen Zers who aren't in work or school is rising. Here's how to tackle it, according to experts.

A Growing Challenge: Addressing the Rise in Young NEETs Globally

The global economy is facing a concerning trend - a growing number of young people who are not engaged in education, employment, or training (NEETs). According to the International Labour Organization, about one-fifth of people aged 15-24 worldwide were considered NEETs in 2023, a level not seen in nearly two decades.

Recent research has shed light on the challenges these young people are experiencing. The St. Louis Federal Reserve's Institute for Economic Equity found that more than one in three young adults aged 18-24 have no income at all. Some are out of work due to factors like disability, mental health issues, or a lack of skills, while others have chosen the NEET lifestyle and are supported by their families or the state.

Addressing the NEET Problem

Countries around the world are working to find ways to reduce the number of NEETs, but there is no simple solution. Experts have identified several areas that show promise:

Education and Mentorship: Initiatives like the European Commission's Youth Guarantee, which aims to ensure access to employment, training, and apprenticeships for those under 30, have shown positive results. In Turkey, for example, the youth unemployment rate reached a decade-low in 2023, which was attributed to encouragement and competitiveness.

Workplace Adaptations: Career and leadership experts believe companies should become more inclusive, and supportive, and provide mentorship to attract and retain young people. Generation Z, the newest entrants to the workforce, places great importance on company values, culture, and mental health support.

Mental Health Support: Research indicates that mental health conditions and low self-confidence are key factors preventing many young NEETs from entering employment. Employability programs that offer mentoring, confidence-building, and mental health support are seen as crucial.

Tackling Voluntary NEETs

The challenge of addressing voluntary NEETs, who reject the notion that being an NEET is inherently negative, is more complex. Some experts believe that rather than being more understanding, a firmer approach is needed, as these individuals may lack the passion, motivation, and willingness to contribute to society.

The Role of Schools and Parents

Experts suggest that the roots of the NEET problem often lie in earlier stages of life, with "permissive parenting" and excessive use of electronic devices contributing to a lack of interest and passion. Schools can also play a crucial role by encouraging students to be active, engaged, and add value, as well as providing better career guidance and practical, real-world learning opportunities.

The NEET challenge is a global problem that requires a multifaceted approach. By addressing the underlying causes, providing support, and fostering a culture of engagement, countries and communities can work to bring disconnected youth back into the fold of education and employment, benefiting both the individuals and the broader economy. 

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