So, at the fifth annual NEET conference in Birmingham yesterday there were presentations and discussions about interventions, impacts and funding (of course) yadah yadah. Towards the end of the day a representative from The Prince’s Trust stood up and challenged the term ‘NEET’, a challenge that is long overdue. A young person who had benefited from one of their programmes was present as a success story (he’s gone from doing nothing to being a community football coach). When asked what he thought of the term, not surprisingly he’s not a fan. He offered a very straightforward answer: “We’re adults. We’re just like everyone else”.
The definition of NEET is tidy and convenient but like all groupings of this nature, homogenise what is in fact a wide variety of experiences. The Department for Education has attempted to segment this group further eg: ‘open to learning’; ‘undecided’; and ‘sustained NEETs’ (sounds serious). We are in danger of losing sight of them as human beings completely. Some young people are out of work due to no fault of their own. The Young Ambassador in question had lost his Apprenticeship when the firm he was placed with went bust. How about we just go back to calling them people. The conference chair pointed out that in Scotland this group are no longer called NEETs, but ‘mcmc’s’: ‘more choices, more chances’. That’s more like it.