More than 35 million young people aged 16 to 29 neither work nor study; the so-called NEETs. These data are taken from a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This study also asserts that young people are twice as likely to be unemployed than other people in working age. It stresses the need for governments to make a greater effort in offering young people a good start in their working careers and in helping them to find a job.

The ‘OECD Skills Outlook 2015’ states that almost half of NEETs in OECD countries do not go to school and are not looking for a job. In addition, they may now be outside the educational and social systems and of the labour market in their countries.

This international organization has noted the seriousness of these figures, not only from a personal point of view, but also regarding the failure of society as a whole and the economic burden this situation has for a country that does not receive any return on its investment on education. “Too many young people leave their studies before having acquired the necessary skills and, even those who do, are prevented from putting them to any productive use. These young people often face a difficult future and they need our support”, said the secretary general of the OECD, Angel Gurría, when he presented the report in Berlin.

The fact that one in every four youths who are working has a temporary contract means that young employees can also encounter obstacles to developing their skills as they can only use them in a more limited way and have fewer training opportunities than workers with permanent contracts.

Computing Skills

One of the points addressed in the report is computing skills: young Spaniards and Italians are at a disadvantage in this field in comparison with youth people from other advanced economies. Almost 50% of Spanish people aged 16 to 29 lack experience in using computers at their workplace.

Among the countries surveyed by the OECD – including most EU states as well as Korea, Norway, Australia, Japan, USA and Canada – only Italy is in a worse situation as it is the only country that exceeds 50%. On the other extreme, we have Korea, with a percentage near 25%. When asked about their experience with computers in their daily lives – not at work – the response from Spanish people is similar to that of other developed countries.

 Help young people find jobs, according to the OECD:

  • High-quality pre-primary education for all children, in order to help reduce the disparities in educational outcomes and provide every child with a good start to their education.
    • Early identification by teachers and school principles of under-performing students in order to offer them the support they need to obtain sufficient reading, maths and science skills, and to prevent them from dropping out of school completely.
  • Public employment services, social welfare institutions and education and training systems should provide a second opportunity to return to education and training. Young people could be asked, in exchange for receiving social benefits, to register with social welfare or public employment services and to participate more in educational and training programmes.
  • Joint work by the providers of educational services and by the business sector to design qualifications that accurately reflect the real skills of new graduates.
  • Integration of on-the-job learning in vocational and post-secondary education programmes.