Young people who are "not in education, employment or training" (NEET) were brought firmly within the political agenda in 1999 with the publication of the Social Exclusion Unit's (SEU) report "Bridging the Gap" (SEU, 1999). The SEU report drew attention to a growing body of evidence about the experiences and barriers that some groups of young people face. In recent years, a number of policy interventions have aimed to address social exclusion and disadvantage among young people, as well as to further support young people's transitions into education, training or employment. This paper draws on research evidence to highlight the issues that face young people who are defined as NEET. It describes recent policy developments, particularly in relation to the introduction of financial incentives, which are targeted at reducing the percentage of young people who do not engage in formal learning, work or training at the end of compulsory schooling. It also highlights the importance of establishing personal and trusting relationships between young people and their advisers as an effective tool for re-engagement. The article outlines the most recent policy initiative being piloted - Activity Agreements (AAs). AAs are designed to offer financial incentives, as well as flexible and responsive provision to address the needs of young people who are defined as long term NEET. One lesson learnt from a similar policy intervention which was introduced as part of the Australian Youth Allowance, showed that an inability among some advisers to establish positive relationships with young people hampered take-up of the initiative. Also, in some circumstances, young people did not feel part of the process in which they should have had a voice in determining the make-up of tailored flexible education and training interventions
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