The number of young people without a job, education or training (NEETs) in Switzerland is one of the lowest in Europe. However, experts warn there is still cause for concern as these youngsters struggle to find the right support and acceptance.
This content was published on May 26, 2022 – 09:00
NEETs is an internationally used term for the number of young people who are no longer in the labor market or in education (“disconnected youth” in the USA). The term gained prominence in the late 2000s as the economic crisis led to a rise in youth unemployment and fears that some would be permanently locked out of the labor market.
The proportion of NEETs in the younger population varies from country to country. According to the latest information, in Switzerland it is 6.3% of 15 to 29 year olds (90,000 people). Statistics from the Federal Statistical Office (BFS).external link published on February 8 of this year. This is among the lowest in Europe, as shown in the Eurostat chart below. Switzerland’s neighbor Italy has the highest share at 23.3%.
The fact that Switzerland performs so well in a European comparison is partly due to the good public education system and the excellent vocational training – the dual apprenticeship (apprenticeship and vocational school) is chosen by two thirds of young people.
A look at the table also confirms low NEET rates in other countries with strong apprenticeship systems such as Austria and Germany.
According to the FSO, the number of NEETS in Switzerland has actually declined over the past ten years: in 2010 it was 8.1% of 15 to 29 year olds.
And the decline affects both types of NEETS – Switzerland distinguishes between “unemployed and looking for work” and “inactive”, which includes people with family care responsibilities, military/civilian service (still compulsory for young men in Switzerland). and on language programs abroad, as well as those struggling with professional integration.
“The decline in NEET is most notable among women, whose NEET rate drops from 9.6% to 5.9%. [during this time]while it remains stable in men (2010: 6.7%; 2020: 6.6%),” FSO Thierry Murier told SWI swissinfo.ch in email comments.
“A development that explains this situation is the decrease in the number of people (mainly women) reporting ‘family and personal responsibilities’ (1.8% of 15-29 year olds in 2010 to 0.6% in year 2020, ie 23% and 10% respectively). the total number of NEETs).”
This is significant as being a young woman is a traditional NEET risk factor as there are many Internationalexternal link and Swiss Studiesexternal link have shown. Other factors are lower levels of education and, as the OECD pointed out in its 2021 education at a glanceexternal link Report on Switzerland with a migrant background (he found a five percentage point difference in the NEET rate between foreign and native-born young adults, i.e. 10.7% compared to 5.9% according to the figures).
Health, including mental health issues, and family issues are also an issue among NEETS.
Overall, however, there is no “typical” NEET, explains Dr. Claudia Meier Magistretti, Professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Swiss research project on NEETSexternal link. But what they have in common is that they struggle for acceptance.
Many NEETS find school difficult with its emphasis on individual and process-based learning. “But the most important thing is that we are a rich country, so many NEETs stay at home and their parents pay for them, help them and sometimes try for years to get them a job,” says Meier, Magistretti explained.
“We probably have a high number of unreported cases because these people don’t show up in public statistics.”
The official number conceals many differences among young people in Switzerland. NEETS are often vulnerable people who are unable to integrate over a long period of time.
“Society is always good because it treats its weakest members, and people in Switzerland don’t treat NEETS well,” says Meier Magistretti, who recently retired book chapterexternal link on the matter, SWI told swissinfo.ch. “It’s not that easy for young people when you’re between 18 and 27 and you can’t find a place in society but you want to, and you face some obstacles that you can’t overcome.”
Meier Magistretti said many NEETS are longer term. “These people have fewer chances of getting out of this situation the longer the situation lasts. They also cause immense costs because they are dependent on social benefits such as social security and disability insurance,” explains the professor. “They also have many health problems, sometimes as a result of being a NEET.” These can include depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Support for NEETs does exist in Switzerland, but it’s patchy — it often depends on which canton you live in — and doesn’t always work, she says.
“The success rates of job coaches and employment services, case management networks and programs are low for this age group, although they are successful for adults. The reason lies in a mismatch between the too many but insufficient offers, which are driven by economic logic, and the individual and heterogeneous problems of young adults in a NEET situation,” says Meier Magistretti.
In their most recent chapter, the professor and her colleague said that the Swiss support system would work better if it had a better understanding of the young adults and their situation as a whole, rather than just focusing on getting a person into the labor market. The study also found a strong desire for some sort of normalcy among the NEETs surveyed.
But what effects could the Covid pandemic have on the Swiss NEET numbers in 2021/2?
Meier Magistretti expects a change. “Covid has most likely led to an increase in the number of NEETs due to mental stress, particularly in vulnerable populations of young people,” she said.
Those of the European Union Eurostat officeexternal link has also indicated that it expects the economic downturn due to the Covid pandemic to result in higher numbers of NEETs across the continent.
The official Swiss statistics will follow later. The FSO says it does not yet have enough information to describe the situation for the Covid period. Due to the revision of the survey on which the NEETS are calculated, the results for 2021 are expected to be published in the second half of 2022.
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