In this page
Estimates from 2020 onwards cover the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some of the changes observed may result from conditions brought about by the pandemic. For example, delayed or missed learning, changes to examinations and assessments and changing labour market conditions during the period of the pandemic.
There is additional uncertainty around these estimates, owing to issues with some of the data sources used to derive them. An explanation is provided in the section containing quality information.
SFR: statistical first release
APS: Annual population survey
16 to 18 year olds
- There was a small gradual decrease in the proportion of 16 to 18 year olds who were NEET between 2011 and 2017. On the Statistical First Release (SFR) basis, this proportion has increased since. On the Annual Population Survey (APS) basis, the proportion is also higher in 2021 than it was in 2017 but has fluctuated in that time. There is an increasing divergence between the SFR and APS NEET estimates. See the quality Information for more detail.
- On the SFR basis, provisional figures indicate that 13.6% (14,200) of 16 to 18 year olds were NEET at end 2021 compared with 11.7% (11,900) at end 2020. This increase is largely driven by an increase in the economic inactivity rate (excluding students) for 16 to 18 year olds, though there was also a slight increase in unemployment.
- Timelier data from the APS series indicates that NEET rates have since decreased. On the APS basis, for the year ending June 2022, 6.3% of 16 to 18 year olds were estimated to be NEET, compared with 10.3% at the year ending June 2021. It should be noted that the figure for the year ending June 2022 is based on between approximately 25 and 40 responses and is categorised as being of limited quality.
19 to 24 year olds
- On the Statistical First Release (SFR) basis, provisional figures indicate that 16.3% (37,800) of 19 to 24 year olds were NEET at end 2021, an increase compared with 15.8% (37,700) in 2020.
- After the start of the 2008 recession the proportion of 19 to 24 year olds who were NEET saw a large increase from 17.4% in 2008 to around 22% - 23% from 2009 to 2012, decreasing in each subsequent year up to 2017. The decrease was driven by increased labour market activity, with participation in education and training remaining fairly stable.
- On the Annual Population Survey (APS) basis, for the year ending June 2022, 15.1% of 19 to 24 year olds were estimated to be NEET, compared with 15.3% for the year ending June 2021.
Proportion of young people not in education, employment or training, by characteristic
From the SFR series it is also possible to produce a gender split of the proportion of young people who are NEET. As this is based on the SFR series, this section contains data up to and including the provisional estimates for the 2021 calendar year. Subsequent analysis in this section (age, disability, ethnicity and region) is based on the APS series and covers data up to and including the year to June 2022.
16 to 18 year olds
Chart 2 shows that the proportion of males and females aged 16 to 18 who are NEET have broadly followed similar trends between 2004 and 2015, with females less likely to be NEET than males due to higher levels of participation in education and training. The gap has since narrowed and even reversed in 2020 before resuming in 2021.
14.7% (7,900) of males aged 16 to 18 were NEET, compared to 10.7% (5,600) in 2020.
12.4% (6,300) of females aged 16 to 18 were NEET, compared to 12.6% (6,300) in 2020.
SFR: statistical first release
19 to 24 year olds
The proportion of females aged 19 to 24 who are NEET had consistently been higher than males up until 2018, where a slightly larger proportion of males were NEET than females. This reversed in 2019 and again in 2020.
Provisional figures for 2021 indicate:
- 16.7% (20,400) of males aged 19 to 24 were NEET, a decrease from 17.2% (21,500) in 2020
- 15.9% (17,400) of females aged 19 to 24 were NEET, an increase from 14.3% (16,200) in 2020
SFR: statistical first release
The Annual Population Survey can be used to provide analysis of NEET rates by characteristics which are not available via the SFR series. Due to small sample sizes, when looking at sub-groups it has been necessary to use estimates based on the average of 3 periods and therefore should be used to compare groups or regions only.
(!) The data item is based on between approx. 25 and 40 responses and is categorised as being of limited quality.
The proportion of young people that are NEET generally increases with age between 16 and 22. It then decreases slightly with age between 22 and 24. The rates range from 4.5% for young people aged 16 to 18.0% for those aged 22.
- Disabled young people are far more likely to be NEET than young people that are not disabled.
- This difference is even more pronounced for 19 to 24 year olds compared to 16 to 18 year olds. The proportion of disabled people who are NEET rises from 18.7% at age 16 to 18 to 38.6% at age 19 to 24.
- In the period from year ending June 2020 to year ending June 2022 young people from a White ethnic background (including White minorities) were more likely to be NEET than young people from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities).
- 13.5% of young people from a White ethnic background (including White minorities) were estimated to be NEET compared to 8.6% of young people from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities).
- There are small differences in NEET rates between regions. The proportion of young people (aged 16 to 24) who are NEET varied from 12.3% in South East Wales to 14.9% in Mid and South West Wales.
National indicator and national milestone
This release contains data associated with one of the national wellbeing indicators (22: percentage of people in education, employment or training, measured for different age groups).
There is a national milestone associated with this indicator; ‘at least 90% of 16 to 24 year olds will be in education, employment, or training by 2050’. Whilst this release considers data for 16 to 18 year olds and 19 to 24 year olds separately, the national milestone is based on the full 16 to 24 age range. The national indicator and national milestone also consider young people in education, employment and training (as opposed to those who are not (NEET)).
Provisional estimates show that 84.5% of 16 to 24 year olds were in education, employment or training in 2021, down from 85.4% in 2020.
Education and training
For the SFR estimates: it is based on those who are enrolled on a course in a school, Further Education (FE) college, Higher Education (HE) institution (including the Open University (OU)) or with a work-based learning provider in Wales. In addition, an estimate is made of the number of those in employment who undertake off-the job training.
For the APS based estimates: respondents to the APS who are either:
- currently carrying out an apprenticeship
- currently on a government employment or training scheme
- currently working or studying towards any qualifications
- have undertaken any job-related education or training in the previous 4 weeks
- currently enrolled on any full-time or part-time education course excluding leisure classes and are still attending or waiting for term to (re)start
The APS is used to estimate the proportion in employment for both the SFR and APS based estimates. In addition employment status from Post-16 enrolment data is used in the SFR.
From the APS respondents are in employment if they are either:
- on government employment or training programmes
- an unpaid family worker
The Welsh Government accepts the social definition of disability, in which it is recognised that barriers in society act to disable people who have impairments or health conditions or who use British Sign Language.
The Annual Population Survey, which is the source of data for this release, captures data using the medical definition of disability used in the Equality Act 2010 (“a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term impact on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities”). Figures within this release are not comparable to those within releases prior to 2015, which reported those reporting DDA current disability or work-limiting disability.
This release summarises the available statistics on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Wales. It is updated annually with latest estimates from the Annual Population Survey (APS) and the headline SFR series. To supplement this annual output, a headline and tables are published quarterly as new APS data become available. The publication of this release coincides with the availability of new SFR series estimates from the participation of young people in education and the labour market statistical release. This release usually covers APS data up to and including the March of the following year for which SFR estimates are available. This year’s bulletin contains data up to and including the year ending June 2022 as it has been published later than usual due to the reweighting of the Annual Population Survey by the Office for National Statistics.
Further information on the SFR and APS series, as well as NEET estimates from the Careers Wales pupil destinations survey, is provided in our guide to understanding the different sources of statistics on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Wales.
The data will be used in support of the National Indicator related to ‘Percentage of people in education, employment or training’ laid under the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015.
The statistics are used within the Welsh Government to monitor trends in the level and proportion of young people who are NEET.
The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework was originally published in 2013 and was refreshed in September 2022. The Framework is a systematic mechanism to identify and respond to young people at risk of becoming NEET, who are NEET and/or who are at risk of being homeless. It focuses on young people aged 11 to 18 and is built of 6 core components:
- Early identification
- Monitoring progression
- Employability and employment opportunities
These statistics are of relevance to Stronger, Fairer, Greener Wales: A Plan for Employability and Skills. The technical annex for the strategy refers to the national indicator based on data from this release (see also the Well-being of Future Generations Act section below). These statistics are also part of the evidence base for the Young Persons Guarantee.
The Annual Population Survey (APS) is a household survey carried out by the ONS. The survey seeks information on respondents' personal circumstances, including their labour market status and their education and training activity. The APS combines the boosted samples of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and provides rolling four quarter data.
As the data come from a survey, the results are sample-based estimates and are therefore subject to differing degrees of sampling variability, i.e. the true value for any measure lies in a differing range about the estimated value. Approximate 95% confidence intervals have been calculated for the APS estimates of the proportion of young people aged 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 who are NEET and are included in the web tables published alongside this release. The chart below shows the main APS NEET time series for 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 year olds with 95% confidence intervals included.
These have been calculated assuming a simple weighted random sample and do not take into account the design of the sample and thus only provide an indication of the confidence interval. Additionally the adjustment method for apportioning missing values creates an artificial aggregated sample size used in the calculation of confidence intervals. The sampling variability increases as the detail in the data increases and therefore for the 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 age groups, of interest in this bulletin, estimates for sub-groups and regions are based on three period averages.
Chart 1 demonstrates, from 2005 to 2013, the similar levels and trend in young people who are NEET shown between the SFR and APS series in general. From 2014 there has been some divergence in estimates for 16 to 18 year olds which has widened further in the last few years. The cause for this is unclear but officials are exploring the issue with the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Education (who produce the equivalent participation and NEET estimates for England). Further updates and explanations will be included in future iterations of this release.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recalibrated the weights of Annual Population Survey datasets for periods covering the year ending 2020 quarter 1 to the year ending 2021 quarter 4. Further information on this reweighting and its impact is available in an article published by the ONS on the Impact of reweighting the Labour Force Survey (Office for National Statistics).
Provisional 2021 figures for the SFR series will be finalised in next year’s publication, due for release in July 2023. Revisions for earlier years are only made in line with revisions to source data.
Mid-year population estimates up to and including 2020 (based on the 2011 Census), along with 2020-based population projections, are used in deriving these participation estimates. First results from the 2021 Census indicate that the estimated population of Wales is lower than both the 2020 mid-year estimate and the 2021 projection. Larger differences are seen in younger age groups. The Office for National Statistics will be publishing rebased mid-year population estimates and updated projections in 2023. As a result, we intend to revise previously published participation estimates in next year’s release.
This issue may also affect data from the Annual Population Survey.
Timeliness and punctuality
The latest SFR provides new data for 2020 and provisional data for 2021. The provisional estimates use the best data for 2021 currently available for each aspect of participation; this includes some final data, some provisional data and some modelling.
Provisional 2021 figures will be finalised in the next SFR publication, due for release in July 2023. The revisions between provisional and final 2020 estimates were larger than those generally seen when provisional estimates are updated with final data. This is partly due to downward revisions in the number of young people in full-time and part-time education between last year’s provisional data and the final data available for this release.
These estimates of young people who are NEET are revised when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases revised Annual Population Survey datasets. Estimates for the year ending March 2020 to the year ending December 2021 have been revised in this release following the reweighting of the Annual Population Survey.
Accessibility and clarity
It is not possible to disaggregate the SFR NEET estimate down to local authority level. This is due to the way the data is put together using enrolment data and because the employment status is estimated using the APS. For 16 to 18 year olds the number of respondents to the APS is relatively small in each local authority; less than 100 respondents.
The APS has been used to estimate the proportion of young people who are NEET by region. However as the sample sizes for a single year are around 25 to 70 (based on the year to June 2022) in each area for those aged 16 to 18, the estimates have been averaged over three rolling years for 16 to 24 year olds. The regions in use are as follows.
- Isle of Anglesey
Mid and south west Wales
- Neath Port Talbot
South east Wales
- Vale of Glamorgan
- Rhondda Cynon Taf
- Merthyr Tydfil
- Blaenau Gwent
Comparability and coherence
The method used to define young people who are NEET using the Annual Population Survey (APS) is harmonised with an agreed UK methodology of deriving NEET estimates. More information can be found within the paper published by the Office for National Statistics.
The Department for Education (DfE) publishes estimates of 16 to 18 year old NEET rates for England using similar methodology to the SFR on an annual basis. The most recent Statistical Release (Department for Education) provided 2021 provisional figures. Chart 7 shows a comparison of the English and Welsh estimates. England does not produce an equivalent measure for 19 to 24 year olds.
Between 2005 and 2012 the proportion of 16 to 18 year olds who were NEET in England and Wales followed broadly similar trends, but with Wales having a larger proportion of 16 to 18 year olds NEET than England. The gap has increased since and continues to widen.
The provisional figures for 2021 show that 13.6% of 16 to 18 year olds in Wales were NEET compared with 6.4% in England. When interpreting trends, it should be noted that there were legislative changes in 2013/14 by the UK Government which increased the age to which all young people in England are required to remain in education or training.
For both series, changes in trend need to be interpreted with a degree of caution, as changes could be attributed to sampling effects as well as real effects.
For Scotland and Northern Ireland, directly comparable NEET estimates for 16 to 18 year olds and 19 to 24 year olds are not published.
Labour Force Survey/Annual Population Survey
The DfE also publish an annual brief on young people who are NEET which includes NEET rates estimates based on the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Additionally from May 2013 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced UK estimates of young people who are NEET (Office for National Statistics), also based on the quarterly Labour Force Survey.
The quarterly estimates are not directly comparable with the Welsh APS-only estimates published in this release. A direct comparison for Wales with England and the UK LFS measure is not provided as the sample size for 16 to 18 year olds and 19 to 24 year olds in Wales is not sufficiently large. However, using a similar methodology to that used by the ONS, but using the Annual Population Survey rather than the LFS, we can provide estimates of young people who are NEET across the UK.
These estimates will differ from the official estimates produced by the DfE and ONS and other relevant departments and should therefore be interpreted with caution. An article explaining the difference between NEET statistics across the UK was published by the ONS, alongside their first publication of UK estimates of young people who are NEET:
Table 1 shows the estimates of the proportion of young people who are NEET for each of the UK countries for the years ending June 2021 and June 2022.
For 16 to 18 year olds the proportion estimated to be NEET decreased across the UK as a whole.
|Country||16 to 18 year olds: year ending June 2021||16 to 18 year olds: year ending June 2022||19 to 24 year olds: year ending June 2021||19 to 24 year olds: year ending June 2022|
|Scotland||(!!) 8.9%||(!!) 7.5%||14.8%||12.1%|
|Northern Ireland||(!) 4.0%||(!) 5.6%||15.8%||13.0%|
(!!) The data item is based on between approx. 25 and 40 responses and is categorised as being of limited quality.
(!) The data item is based on between approx. 10 and 25 responses and is categorised as being of low quality.
In the year ending June 2022 the proportion of 16 to 18 year olds estimated to be NEET decreased in Wales, England and Scotland and increased in Northern Ireland. The gap between the UK and Wales decreased from 3.9 percentage points in the year to 2021 to 0.2 percentage points in the year to 2022.
National Statistics status
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value. All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate. The designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in July 2012 following a full assessment against the Code of Practice.
Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made the following improvements:
- Included a number of visuals showing long term trends as well as commentary on these trends
- Eliminated un-necessary tables from the release as they are freely available of StatsWales
- Improved coherence of the commentary when comparing the two different series
It is Welsh Government’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when standards are restored.
Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)
The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. The Act puts in place seven well-being goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the Well-being goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before the Senedd Cymru. Under section 10(8) of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, where the Welsh Ministers revise the national indicators, they must as soon as reasonably practicable (a) publish the indicators as revised and (b) lay a copy of them before the Senedd. These national indicators were laid before the Senedd in 2021. The indicators laid on 14 December 2021 replace the set laid on 16 March 2016 and this release includes information related to one of the national indicators:
- (22) Percentage of people in education, employment or training, measured for different age groups.
Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the well-being goals and associated technical information is available in the Wellbeing of Wales report.
As a national indicator under the Act they must be referred to in the analyses of local wellbeing produced by public services boards when they are analysing the state of economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing in their areas.
The Act states national milestones must be set that “…the Welsh Ministers consider would assist in measuring whether progress is being made towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals.” In doing so Welsh Ministers must specify how we know that a national milestone has been achieved and the time by which it is to be achieved.
National milestones are not performance targets for any individual organisation, but are collective measures of success for Wales.
In this release indicator 22: percentage of people in education, employment or training, measured for different age groups corresponds to a national milestone:
- At least 90% of 16 to 24 year olds will be in education, employment, or training by 2050
Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.
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