Depicting young people by what they are not: conceptualisation and usage of NEET as a deficit label


Over the last decade particularly in the UK, the term NEET (not in education, employment or training) has been used excessively by the New Labour Government to deal with concerns of social and economic exclusion among the youth. This paper explores issues relating to the usage of NEET as a service intervention label and its compatibility with the group of young people to whom it refers. The process involves review of relevant literature on existing research into NEET with the view to assessing its usefulness as a descriptive label.

It is argued that because NEET covers a wide range of circumstances that young people are in, its use as a policy target is problematic. Similarly, it is contended that the use of NEET as a key point of focus for targeting service interventions amounts to fire-fighting tantamount to the concentration of attention on those victims who can relatively be moved easily to EET (education, employment or training) destinations at the expense of others who could benefit from such attention but do not receive it. The paper concludes that since poor experience of education is only one factor of NEETness, a multi-agency approach (rather than an individualized approach) is needed to tackle it.

Nudzor, H. (2010) Depicting young people by what they are not: conceptualisation and usage of NEET as a deficit label. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 2(2). Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan, 2019].

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