The number of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are neither working nor attending school, studying or doing an apprenticeship is increasing: it currently stands at 626,000. That is 7.5 percent of all young people in this age group, according to an analysis of current statistics and studies by the Bertelsmann Foundation, which is available exclusively to the news portal t-online.

This group is also called NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training). For years, their numbers had been falling. In 2009, there were 920,000, and at the beginning of 2022, only 538,000. At that time, the number had fallen again after a brief increase during the Corona period. But for the last two years, the number of NEETs has been rising again.

Caroline Schnelle, training expert at the Bertelsmann Foundation, sees the economic downturn as a main reason for the increase in the number of NEETs: “Despite an oversupply of training places, this means that in some regions there is more demand than places,” Schnelle told t-online. This was already the case for some regions before, “but the economic situation has made it even worse.”

At the same time, many applicants are not considered by companies because their qualifications are not sufficient, says Schnelle. In order to prevent the number of unskilled young people from continuing to rise, action must be taken much earlier: “Investing instead of repairing is the order of the day: schools must become better at reaching and qualifying these young people,” said Schnelle. School social workers and psychologists are just as necessary for this as earlier, practical career guidance.

Many young people with a low level of education rate their chances on the job market poorly. According to a recent survey of schoolchildren by the Bertelsmann Foundation, which t-online also has access to, almost three quarters of all respondents currently see good to very good chances on the job market. Of those with a low level of education, however, more than one in five has the impression that the chances are rather poor.

In order to reduce the number of NEETs, Schnelle also believes that more help with orientation about training paths is urgently needed. Young people do know where to find information about it, for example on the Internet: more than half (56%) of the students in the Bertelsmann Foundation survey stated that there is actually enough information about training and careers, but that they find it difficult to find their way around.

Young people with a high level of education have the greatest difficulties here (62%). Many also want more support (30%) in their search for a training place. Here, too, the desire is particularly strong among young people with a high level of education (41%). For Schnelle, this confirms “that young people need much more individual support. It is not enough to have one lesson for everyone.” High schools in particular need to improve in this regard.