It’s hard to imagine that a young person enters college envisioning that only a few years later they will have earned their degree and yet not be in education, employment, or training, commonly referred to as “NEET.” In essence they are “disconnected.” This is not an outcome that is typically associated with college graduates as we often thought that education served as a sort of inoculation against NEET status.
The possibility of becoming a college-educated NEET is a situation confronting many young people today as they launch their careers in the midst of a global pandemic. This unexpected turn of events has led to soaring unemployment rates among workers of all ages, and particularly among Millennials and Generation Z.
Given the global resonance of this issue and the haunting reminders of the NEET experiences of the Millennial generation after the 2008 recession, ETS and European researchers collaborated to shine a spotlight on the issue of disconnection among recent college graduates in the U.S. and 29-countries in the OECD. The new study, College-Educated Yet Disconnected: Exploring Disconnection from Education and Employment in OECD Countries, With a Comparative Focus on the U.S., explores factors that influence the odds that young adults (ranging in age from 20-29) with at least a two-year college degree will end up “NEET” or “disconnected.”
Results of the study highlighted the persistent negative influence of coming from a family with low education levels. Even after accounting for national and local economic factors, academic ability, college major, and degree completion, we see that college graduates with less-educated parents are more likely to end up NEET during some of their prime working years.
Three specific findings of the study may resonate with readers in all corners of the world:
While all young adults may be especially in need of support in the early stages of a career during a global depression, the results of this timely study highlight the critical importance of supports for certain populations of college-educated individuals.
The silver lining for college graduates who may be struggling to build their lives at such a unique and challenging time is that they have already completed their degrees. Perhaps an increase in remote work opportunities will also bode well for the work-life balance of new graduates and free them from the geographic ties encountered by prior generations. We are entering an interesting new period of history, one in which the traditional structures and practices of organizations may shift drastically; we have yet to see how work and the economy will evolve and respond.