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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Mawn, L., Oliver, E.J., Akhtar, N., Bambra, C., Torgerson, C., Bridle, C. & Stain, H.J. (2017). Are we failing young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs)? A systematic review and meta-analysis of re-engagement interventions. Systematic Reviews 6: 16.

Author(s) from Durham


Background: Youth comprise 40% of the world’s unemployed, a status associated with adverse wellbeing and
social, health, and economic costs. This systematic review and meta-analysis review synthesises the literature on
the effectiveness of interventions targeting young people not in employment, education, or training (NEET).
Methods: Randomised and quasi-randomised trials with a concurrent or counterfactual control group and baseline
equivalence are included. Cochrane collaboration tools are used to assess quality, and a narrative synthesis
was undertaken. The primary outcome is employment; secondary outcomes were health, earnings, welfare
receipt, and education.
Results: Eighteen trials are included (9 experimental and 9 quasi-experimental), sample sizes range from 32 to 54,923.
Interventions include social skills, vocational, or educational classroom-based training, counselling or one-to-one support,
internships, placements, on-the-job or occupational training, financial incentives, case management, and individual
support. Meta-analysis of three high-quality trials demonstrates a 4% (CI 0.0–0.7) difference between intervention and
control groups on employment. Evidence for other outcomes lacks consistency; however, more intensive programmes
increase employment and wages over the longer term.
Conclusions: There is some evidence that intensive multi-component interventions effectively decrease unemployment
amongst NEETs. The quality of current evidence is limited, leaving policy makers under-served when designing and
implementing new programmes, and a vulnerable population neglected.
Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42014007535

School of Education