Meet a new (or maybe not so new) group of people known as “NEETS” – Not in Employment or Education Training”. The age group that was discussed was between 15 – 30. Daily Telegraph interviewed two so – called “NEETS, 21 – year – old Ashleigh and 17 – year – old Amy, who openly admit that they don’t want to work. “I don’t want to work my whole life… and just die. I want more than that”, said Ashleigh. According to Organisation for Economic Co – operation and Development (OECD) report, there are currently 580,000 young Australians who currently fall into the NEET category.
The Editor to the Daily Telegraph tries to be fair by breaking NEETs into distinct groups – those looking for work, but can’t find it, (41%) and people saying that they “wouldn’t like a job” (40%). The editorial points out that these “NEETs”, are essentially creating a further strain on the economy, along with the overblown education and health costs that still face the Australian Government.
I want to be a bit more sympathetic toward young people like Ashleigh and Amy. Why don’t they want to work? Don’t they have any goals? Dreams? I just find their outlook so sad and bleak. If you watch the video on the Daily Telegraph article, they sound like it’s no big deal. Centrelink will bail us out, etc, etc, but it all seems like bravado to me. What are these girls’ home lives like? Are they angry? Hurt? Distrusting? Defiant of any form of authority due to that distrust? Are they just struggling to find out what they really want to do, but don’t want to admit it? Other NEETs are often male who are said to be unwilling ot find work and instead play computer games, while young women are more likely to forfeit employment and training because of motherhood and the struggle to get affordable and adequate childcare.
On a societal level, I don’t think this generation (i.e. my generation – those born in the 1980’s and early 1990’s – were prepared for the Global Financial Crisis that hit in 2008. Long – term unemployment, or even not getting the job we wanted, wasn’t really a discussion we had at school. Sure, we were told to be “realistic”, but other than that, not much else. We were always encouraged to apply for the courses that we wanted to do. That work experience was a step to bigger and better things. That TAFE was just as good at Uni. Struggling to find employment after graduating University was never really talked about. Then, 2008 happened – the collapse of the economy and businesses tightening their belts. I started reading in magazines about young people who even had multiple Bachelor and Masters degrees, and were still told that they lacked “experience” to work for certain companies. Which, makes me reach two conclusions – 1. universities don’t equip students well enough and current Work Placement/ Internship programs are inadequate, or 2. frankly, employers want to find any excuse not to employ someone that by law they’d have to pay a certain wage/ salary. Maybe I’m being too harsh. On number point number 2, is that where the government can help out? I know there were talks about business tax cuts. Have they happened yet or what? Anyone know? Apparently, the government hasn’t fixed the childcare system yet.
So, before anyone condemns NEETs for being “dole bludgers”, maybe we need to take a look at the wider picture. How can we help young people deal with the current financial situation of the country? How can we get Universities and TAFEs better equipped to help graduates find work? How can we help young people who live in impoverished or welfare – dependent areas to find the strength and the inspiration to dream about and follow their ideal career path? I just don’t think that calling these young people “dole bludgers” is the way to go. It may very well be a lot more complicated than that – even more complicated than what I wrote here.