The ILO’s centenary in 2019 will arrive at a time when the world of work is at a crossroads. On the heels of the Great Recession that brought global unemployment levels to 200 million and led to widespread insecurity, labour markets across the world are undergoing deep transformations. These changes oblige us to rethink what work means and what it entails. They are also challenging societies to find ways to ensure that work delivers the jobs and incomes that people need.
Before joining the ILO in 2014 I’d heard this remarkable fact about Chinese migrant workers: at some 274 million, they represent the greatest population movement in human history. But what I didn’t realize is, I’m actually one of them.
If you’re as baffled as I am by the speed at which the acronym NEETs has become standard jargon in the media, academia and international organisations, please take a moment to join me for a brief examination of what NEETs actually means. Read the technical brief
Who are NEETs? Strictly speaking, NEETs are young people who are “Neither in Employment nor in Education or Training”. Why is everybody talking about them? Perhaps because the idea of NEETs is vague enough to allow for all-encompassing interpretations of the challenges facing young people. NEETs has become shorthand for exclusion, marginalization, joblessness and discouragement. It’s even been given as evidence for a “jobless generation”, which—let’s face it—makes a great headline.