In 2011, around 55% of early leavers from education and training were jobless (up by nine percentage points compared to 2008).

Labour market prospects for young adults that leave education and training early are generally bad. This is one reason why it is so important to encourage young people to continue their education and training beyond lower secondary level, a key objective of the EU 2020 strategy, as well as of vocational education and training policy. This becomes even more urgent in the current economic downturn, where job prospects are deteriorating.

Key points

  • In 2011, 13.5% of 18-24 year-olds in the EU were early leavers from education and training. Around 55% of these young adults did not have a job.
  • For young people leaving education and training early, 2011 labour market prospects were particularly bad in Bulgaria, Ireland, Hungary and Slovakia, where, 70% or more of them were not employed.
  • This is a challenge across Europe. In 18 EU countries, 50% or more of young early leavers from education and training were not employed. In the remaining EU countries for which 2011 data are available, such shares were still high, ranging from 40% and 50% in three countries to between 25% and 40% in three other countries.
  • Spain, Italy and Romania combined very high levels of early leaving (respectively 26%, 18% and 17% of young adults) with relatively high shares of early leavers not in employment (between 59% and 51%).
  • In the period 2008-11, the share of early leavers among young adults declined by 1.4 percentage points in the EU. Over the same period, the share of early leavers that were not employed increased by 9.2 percentage points.


Data refer to the number of early leavers from education and training as defined for EU statistical purposes: young individuals (aged 18 to 24) who have at most lower secondary education and who are not in further education and training. To look at their labour market prospects, this number is further decomposed into the share of jobless early leavers (early leavers not in employment) and the share of early leavers who are employed. To look at the overall level of early leaving for young people, figures are complemented with the EU benchmark indicator, which expresses the number of early leavers as a share of the population aged 18 to 24.

Data for the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Estonia are not presented due to small sample sizes.