Meet The NEETs — Young People Who Lose Out On Education, Employment or Training

Mike Styles reports this district (and others) needs to face up to the NEET problem

He says NEET is a polite term for lost young people. 

Youth worker Tau Faaeteete with young people in Wellingtgon’s Zeal St wsork project

‘NEET — the official translation is young people who are serious risk of becoming a major burden on society, and have been short-changed by their parents, caregivers and by state agencies, ” says Mike, who has specialized in Literacy and Numeracy teaching.

NEETs often leave school early

‘NEETs often leave school well before the official leaving age. 

Many are troubled young people who are difficult for the schools to manage.  Many are put on the roll of Te Kura, the Correspondence School. 

But a person who cannot handle learning in a classroom will most likely find it more difficult by correspondence. 

Many schools take the view that it is pragmatic to ignore these reluctant learners.  The understandable view of the schools is that these often-disturbed young people spoil the chances of the other learners. 

It is not reasonable to hold the schools to account here, but somebody must take responsibility.  That responsibility lies with the Ministry of Education.

Passing the buck

The net effect of the current situation is that everybody is passing the buck, and the New Zealand taxpayer is picking up the tab.

Parents often pass the buck to the school system.  Primary schools pass the buck to secondary schools.  Schools are keen to move many of these people on and they end up in one of a list of not-so ideal places.

Some are referred to Alternative Schools, who try their hardest to help.  Many end up on the books of the Ministry of Social Development as job seekers receiving a benefit. 

The worst outcome is that many end up in the justice system.  A report published in 2018 about dyslexia in the prison system revealed that well over half the prisoners screened had left school well before they reached the official leaving age of sixteen. 

Mongrel Mob gang member — photo, Jono Rotman

The most obvious consequence of disengagement in education is that these people have no qualifications and end up with menial jobs or no jobs. They become ideal candidates for long term unemployment or long-term incarceration.

NEETs occur when truancy is not addressed

Recent media stories about poor attendance records at school are one tell tale sign for things to come. 

The disturbing element is that these young people fall through the cracks.  The Ministry of Education does not have accurate data on how many there are.  The Ministry of Social Development only becomes aware of these young people if they receive a referral – or the young person turns up seeking a benefit.  Many of these young people also have mental health and other health issues.

The only helpers

Often the only organisations supporting these young people are health and wellbeing agencies like Kāpiti Youth Support, Vibe (Lower Hutt) and Directions Youth Services (Hawkes Bay).

The team at  Kāpiti Youth Support

These young people often have multiple needs which are often expensive to address.  The government agencies are getting off scot free and leaving the problems to be solved by often under-funded Non- Government Agencies.

The NEET issue is costing New Zealand a lot of money.  The cost is today, and the cost will continue well into the future. 

We cannot allow the key players to continue to pass the buck.

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