Education International
Education International

Spain: youth trapped in NEET limbo

published 11 September 2014 updated 12 September 2014

Fears of a lost generation are sinking in in Spain after the publication of the latest OECD report on Education shows that one out of four young people does neither work nor study.

The limbo-state of being a NEET, a young person who is neither employed nor enrolled in any type of education or training, seems to be touching more and more young people in Spain despite the first hints of economic recovery, according to the latest OECD report on Education. A total of 1.7 out of the 7.6 million young people in Spain find themselves in this situation, the highest rate in Europe. With figures reflecting high academic failure and increasing drop-out rates, the percentage of NEETs has grown in all the levels of education, from students having accomplished only basic tuition to holders of master’s degrees.

Most of these young people cannot find their way into the labour market, or have to work in precarious working conditions with temporary, short-term contracts that are followed by long periods of unemployment.

Education system in need of reform

In an article published by the Spanish newspaper El País, various experts stress that unemployment is not simply a result of the economic crisis but of a weak system of vocational training. The Spanish government has not promoted the return of those who dropped out of education before the crisis, and there seems to be a mismatch between the demands of the market and the educational offer.

The trade unions of the education sector condemn the measures taken by the government in the new education law, which will not solve the urgent problems of the sector. The Federación de Enseñanza de Comisiones Obreras (FECCOO) has issued a report with the title “The education system bleeds to death: cuts in spending, more pupils and less teachers”. And the Federación de Trabajadores de la Enseñanza de UGT (FETE-UGT) has issued a press release in which it denounces the insecurity that comes with the new law.

But Spain is not an exception, despite being at the top of the list. The OECD study points out that the number of students with a secondary education diploma who have dropped out and are not in the labour market has been continually on the rise since 2008 in most OECD countries. It therefore recommends the adjustment of education programmes in order to prevent the young from becoming stuck in ‘dead alleys’.