Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Risk factors and consequences of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

Project Number:



Zhiqiang Feng (University of St Andrews)
Chris Dibben (University of St Andrews)
Kevin Ralston (University of St Andrews)
Gillian Raab (University of St Andrews)
Elspeth Graham (University of St Andrews)

Start Date:

10 April 2013


A body of research has focused on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) over the past decade. Research has examined characteristics, risk factors, and subsequent outcomes for NEETs. Some studies have also evaluated the effect of intervention programmes aimed at reducing the incidence of NEET or supporting NEET’s re-engagement in education or employment. This type of research is crucial for policy making because only when the determinants of NEETs are fully understood can effective policy be developed to address the NEET problem. The NEET problem is complex arising from interplay between individual, family, and contextual (school, labour market, neighbourhood) factors. Although low educational attainment is a marked indicator of young people becoming NEET there are deep-rooted individual, family and contextual factors contributing to risks of becoming NEET. These factors may be traced back to early childhood. There have been debates on whether NEET status is transitional and temporary or whether it has long-term negative effects on young NEETs. Empirically outcomes of studies on impacts of NEET experiences have been mixed and vary by gender and outcome measures. In addition, few studies have adopted a life course perspective, or taken both individual and contextual factors into account. No research has focused on the new young generation of the 2000s.

We will focus on two key questions. First, what are the individual, family and contextual determinants of NEET status? Can we use risk scoring methods to identify high risk school students and thus provide a basis for schools or local governments to support them from an early stage? We will follow SLS members who were born in 1992-1995 to 2011 (age 16-19) in this study. Second, is the NEET experience just a temporary adversity in a life course characterised by disadvantage, or does the experience per se impact on later adult life in terms of (un)employment and poor physical or psychological well-being? We will separately trace two cohorts in answering this question, cohort one: aged 16-19 in 1991 to 2011 (age 36-39) and two: aged 16-19 in 2001 to 2011 (aged 26-29). We will use both descriptive and statistical analysis in the analysis. We will use multilevel modelling approaches to analyse the two key questions on risk factors and impact of NEETs. The research findings will inform policy in the UK and be of considerable policy relevance to other industrialised countries which seek to address the NEET problem.

This research aims to investigate systematically the risk factors for NEET status and the impact of NEET status on later labour market outcomes and well-being in a contemporary context between 1991 and 2011. This research will extend our current SLS project on NEETs in Scotland being undertaken in collaboration with staff from the Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Analysis Unit of the Scottish Government.

Our objectives are to address two key questions:

  1. To what extent are individual, family, and contextual factors associated with risks of becoming NEET?
  2. To what extent does NEET status affect outcomes in later life?


Bynner, J. and Parsons, S. (2002), ‘Social exclusion and the transition from school to work: the case of young people not in employment education or training (NEET)’, Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 60: 289–309

Coles, B, Godfrey, C, Keung, A, Parrott, S and Bradshaw, J. (2010) Estimating the life-time cost of NEET: 16-18 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training Research Undertaken for the Audit Commission Department of Social Policy and Social Work and Department of Health Sciences July 21st 2010

Furlong A, (2006), "Not a very NEET solution: representing problematic labour market transitions among early school leavers" Journal of Work, Employment and Society 20 553- 569

Pemberton, S (2008) Tackling the NEET generation and the ability of policy to generate a `NEET' solution: evidence from the UK Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26, 243 -259

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