Anna Zudina, Research Fellow at the HSE Centre for Labour Market Studies.
In Russia, 12% of individuals aged 15 to 24 fall in the NEEТ (Not in Employment, Education or Training) group. This means their number is 1.9 million, given the total number of individuals in this strata is 16.1 million. Low-quality education and lack of jobs in the rural areas might exacerbate the situation, concluded Anna Zudina in her study ‘”They don’t work and don’t study”: NEET youth on the Russian labour market’*.
The share of NEET youth in Europe is about 13%. The highest shares (over 17%) are in Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, and Ireland, while the lowest (fewer than 7%) are in the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Russia is at the average European level. In 1995, 19% of young people were NEET, and 12% in 2015.
The indicator has been decreasing over the last 20 years and didn’t react to economic meltdowns in 2008-2009 and 2015-2016. The fastest decrease was among individuals aged 15 to 19, with the share falling down from 14% to 5%.
According to the study, the reason for this was that younger people have been actively involved in studying.
The most stable group is made up of the economically inactive NEET people aged 20 to 24, who have no opportunity, necessity, or willingness to get a job, due to a disability, having to care about other members of the family (such as young mothers), unable to find work, or those who purposely decided not to have one.
Young NEET people can be divided into two age groups: 15 to 19 (about 370,000 people in Russia) and 20 to 24 (about 1.6 million in Russia). They include both unemployed people (who are actively looking for a job and are ready to start working), and the economically inactive mentioned above.
In 1995, there were more females in the group aged 15 to 19, but by 2015, males had become the majority by a small margin (49% and 51%).
Females strongly dominate only among economically inactive individuals aged 20 to 24, their share being over 70%. Over half the people in this group are married. This is largely why they leave the job market and don’t have the opportunity or desire to combine family life with work or studies, the research says.
Marriage doesn’t play a determining role for NEET individuals aged 15 to 19 (only 12% of them were married by 2015). In this case, a low level of education leads to them being NEET; almost half of them have no or only secondary education.
Most young NEET people of both age categories have no work experience. Among individuals aged 15 to 19, 73% in 1995, and 85% in 2015 had no work experience. This indicator has almost doubled among those aged 20 to 24 as well, from 32% to 62%.
The main reasons for being NEET in Russia are the low level of education among young people and not being able to meetjob market requirements, as well as the lack of workplaces in rural areas.
Most NEET young people in rural areas fall in the 15 to 19 age group. Among the unemployed, the share of urban residents has decreased from 76% to 47% over the 20 years, and the share of rural residents has increased from 24% to 53%.
This is due to the shrinking number of vacancies in rural areas, the researcher commented. If this deficit continues, young people in rural areas are at risk of staying in the NEET status as they approach old age.
Speaking about education, the level is low ‘for a vast majority of young NEET individuals in different age groups’.
Almost 75% of individuals aged 15 to 19 are unemployed after they graduate from high school. Among economically inactive individuals, there are even more school graduates, about 89%.
Among economically inactive individuals aged 20 to 24, there are more secondary school (33–36%) or vocational school (17–20%) graduates.
University graduates may also become a substantial part of NEET group. The results of this research have demonstrated that the process is already underway. For example, in 1995, people with higher or unfinished higher education made up to only 7% of unemployed NEET people aged 20 to 24, while by 2015, this had quadrupled to 28%.
One of the possible reasons for this is that higher education has become far more widespread. Graduates of low-quality universities are unable to compete for work places and become NEET.
Their situation may worsen over time. Without work experience, they will fall further behind those who have got a professional degree of high quality.
In this situation, it’s necessary to stimulate young people to look at options such as continuing education and retraining. According to the study’s author, this can help decrease the total number of young NEET people in Russia, together with creating jobs in rural areas.
*The study was based on data from the Population survey on employment problems, which has been carried out by Rosstat since 1992 in all Russian regions. The studied period: 1995 – 2015. Sample volume: about 270,000 people annually with quarterly data collection, and about 800,000 people annually after August 2009, when the survey transitioned to monthly collection of data.