If “The Youth of the Country are the Trustees of Posterity” (Benjamin Disraeli, 1845), do we need to do more to support young people who are NEET in the UK?

While some nineteenth century commentators pointed to the social divide that existed, in terms of children’s access to a basic education and their predisposition to experience early labour market exploitation, the challenge currently facing policymakers is to reduce unacceptable levels of social and economic exclusion that threaten to blight many young people’s lives. The purpose of this seminar will be to provide a greater understanding of the label ‘NEET’ (not in education, employment or training), with regard to why the term was first adopted in the UK and why an increasing cohort of young people are assigned this status. It will examine policy initiatives, in terms of early intervention programmes in schools that are aimed at preventing young people from becoming NEET, reintegration or ‘remedial’ programmes, and active labour market policies. Ongoing research undertaken at the University of Oxford highlights a disparity across the four countries within the UK, relating to the support and intervention currently offered to young people in the NEET group. Finally, the continued relevance of the term ‘NEET’ and whether it is helping to disguise, rather than highlight, present levels of youth disengagement will be discussed.