The “NEETs”, children of the pandemic, enjoy not having everyday life and pressure at the same time and as they say “see the world differently”
Eliza got her high school diploma and decided to take a break. The young Berliner worked in a cafe and then booked a ticket to Chile with a friend. A few months later he got an Interrail ticket to travel to Europe. Two years passed like this. “You enjoy not having the everyday life and the pressure,” says the young lady.
Eliza falls into a category that has been talked about a lot lately, the so-called NEETs. This is a made-up word for young people who do not go to school, but do not work either. The word comes from English: Not in Education, Employment or Training. 564,000 such young people, aged 15 to 24, were registered in Germany by the European statistical agency Eurostat for 2022. And this, at a time when thousands of companies cannot fill tens of thousands of apprenticeship and work positions. But how is this possible?
A heterogeneous group
“The problem with NEETs is that they are a very heterogeneous group of people,” says education expert Clemens Wieland, from the Bertelsmann Foundation. There are young people who are disillusioned, high school graduates without qualifications, with language difficulties or other problems, and there are young people like Eliza, who after school just take a break to think about what they want.
“There are many people who don't know what they want to do,” says the young lady. “Why go to university when you don't know who you are and what interests you, what you want to do,” he says.
The pandemic also played its role according to Eurostat. The percentage of NEETs between 15-24 in Germany increased from 5.7% in 2019 to 7.4% in 2020 and 7.8% in 2021. It then decreased again to 6.8% in 2022, or in absolute numbers: from 648,000 in 2021 to 564,000. That's half a million young people that businesses absolutely need. According to data from the Federal Employment Service, 228,000 apprenticeship vacancies and 116,000 applicants were registered in July.
But they don't agree with this life model
Clemens Wieland, from the Bertelsmann Foundation, states that it is very important to support young people. “We need to support young people on their way to a career path. This way, the risk of them being unemployed is reduced and the economy gets the workers it desperately needs.” Employers generally feel that the transition to work should be quick. Young people should quickly get an apprenticeship, quickly earn their own money and quickly pay insurance contributions.
However, many young people do not agree with this model of life. After all, the opportunities and possibilities that are now offered to them are many. According to a survey titled “What motivates young people in 2022”, the majority of them seemed satisfied with their lives but pessimistic about the situation in Germany.
As Eliza says, let's not blame the young people even if we are not in a hurry to judge them. They just see the world differently.