On Wednesday 14 November, the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) welcomed IPR Honorary Professor, Sue Maguire, and Visiting Fellow, Dr Maria Balarin, to the stage for a research seminar on NEET status (young people not in education, employment or training) and precarious young workers in the North and South.

The seminar was held at the University of Bath, and featured two presentations examining the current relevance of a focus on NEET status in two very different contexts: the UK and Peru.

IPR Director, Professor Nick Pearce, began proceedings with a short introduction, followed by Professor Maguire and her presentation on ‘Young, NEET and Forgotten? An insight into the lives of young people in England who are NEET and economically inactive’.

Her presentation highlighted a passive acceptance that many young women (as well as increasing numbers of young men) become NEET and economically inactive (due to caring responsibilities or illness) and remain so for long periods of time, despite the scarring effects this will have on their lives.

Professor Maguire concluded that the wider categorisation of NEET status, and associated policy responses, are failing to recognise, connect with, or meet the needs of many young people they are seeking to represent.

Dr Balarin followed with her presentation ‘Fractured lives: youth labour market vulnerability in Perú’, which showed that in contrast to the UK, informal labour markets and employment precarity tend to be a historical norm in developing countries, rather than a more recent phenomenon associated with changes in the nature of work and employment relations.

In showcasing her mixed-methods study of NEETs and precarious young workers in Peru, Dr Balarin highlighted important implications for the analysis of youth labour market vulnerability in the Global South, as well as for policies that seek to address this problem. She concluded more integral policy responses are required, to combat the conditions and life courses that render young people NEET or precarious workers.

Following great questions and discussion amongst attendees, Professor Hugh Lauder (Education) brought proceedings to a close.

On both presentations, event organiser and IPR Research Assistant Marsha Wood adds:

Today’s research seminar really demonstrated how Sue and Maria’s work both highlights the stark gap in attention to the needs of vulnerable young people in research, and policy development. We were thrilled to have this opportunity to hear more about their research, and for it to be shared with staff and students across the University.