Half of young British ‘Neets’ are not even looking for work, a damning international report has revealed.
Around 500,000 youths who are not in education, employment or training – known as Neets – have given up trying to earn a living.
They have ‘fallen under the radar’ not only due to their appallingly low levels of skills but also because they have abandoned hunting for jobs altogether.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that Britain’s Neets have ‘lost touch and hope’, and find themselves ‘far from the labour market’.
The renowned international think tank analysed labour force studies from across the world for the report.
It found ‘a relatively high share’ of 15 to 29-year-old Neets in the UK were ‘inactive and not looking for a job’.
The figure stood at 56 per cent for this age group, and above the OECD average of 53.8 per cent, according to 2013 data.
One in four Neets in the UK had been unemployed for more than six months and faced ‘risks of skills erosion’.
The OECD report analysed findings from 22 countries which took part in a 2012 survey of adult skills.
The UK has the biggest gap in literacy and problem-solving skills between 16 to 29-year-old Neets and young employed people out of all the countries surveyed.
There was a 12.6 per cent difference in literacy between the two groups – double the OECD average of 6.5 per cent – and a 9.6 per cent gap in problem solving.
British Neets can claim a range of benefits, including Jobseeker’s Allowance if they are aged over 18 and looking for work.
Even those who are not trying to find a job can generally apply for carer’s allowance, disability benefits and income support.
An OECD briefing document on the UK said: ‘Due to insufficient skills and preparation for the labour market, many youths are neither employed nor in education or training.
‘Policies should focus on helping the Neet, including those who have become disengaged, to renew with education or integrate into the labour market.’
It added: ‘Many of the Neets are far from the labour market not only due to their low skills but also because they are not looking for a job and thus may have fallen under the radar of education and labour market institutions.’
The countries in the study with the fewest ‘inactive’ Neets were Spain and Greece, while Mexico and South Korea had the most.
Office for National Statistics figures show there were 963,000 16 to 24-year-old Neets in the UK between October and December.
This represented around one in seven young people. More than half were classed as ‘economically inactive’ as they were either not looking for work or not available for it.
Under reforms to the system, teenagers have to stay in some form of education or training until they are 17. This is rising to 18 starting with the year group that took their GCSEs last summer.
The Department for Education said: ‘Following years of stagnation in international education league tables, this Government’s relentless focus on standards is ensuring thousands more young people are able to read, write and add up.’