Problem statement


Guidance can play an important role in helping NEETs to get back into learning and work. It supports individuals to develop their capacity to make career-related decisions, to identify employment and learning opportunities, to manage transitions into work and learning, and to generally increase their awareness of their needs, potential and aspirations. Guidance has an impact on skill levels, qualifications, engagement in learning, networking capacity, effective job search and adaptability to different work environments. 

Lifelong guidance incorporates information, counselling, competence assessment, support in work and learning environments, and fosters decision-making and career management skills. It can be provided in a range of settings, including schools, VET centres and colleges, adult centres, public employment services’ (PES) offices and other organisational settings (including online).

Career guidance professionals from employment services, social services, education and training providers and youth workers are well-placed to collaborate on providing NEETs with the information and supports to manage their careers.

Employers play an important role in improving NEETs’ experiences and expectations of the world of work and in helping them to make informed career-related decisions. Local-level cooperation between guidance services, employers and other key stakeholders can be used to create opportunities for NEETs to try different occupational areas through work tasters, shadowing, work-based learning and internships. Employers are also well-placed to provide up-to-date, relevant labour market information, and to facilitate transitions to the workplace.

Addressing the problem

Policy makers, managers and practitioners involved in career guidance services targeting NEETs may find useful the following tips.

Tip 1: Adapt guidance to the needs of individuals

Information and guidance services are most effective where they feature multi-channel delivery (web, telephone, face-to-face) and are scalable according to individual needs (i.e. young people with higher needs receive more support). Quality guidance is person-centred, being accessible to all and yet personalised to each individual, with activities adapted to that person’s situation and responsive to their individual needs and aspirations.

Career counselling can help individuals to discover, clarify, assess and understand their own experiences and to explore the alternatives available to them, as well as strategies for implementation. One-to-one support through coaching or mentoring programmes can be helpful for those facing multiple barriers to learning. When delivering services via several channels, a careful blend of online, telephone, face-to-face and self-directed activities should be used to respond to individual needs. 

Social and psychological support can also be a means for NEETs to acquire more self-confidence, trust, a sense of belonging and motivation, enabling them to think more positively about society and their own future. Such supports can be part of reintegration measures for young people facing particularly complex issues.

Read more: Cedefop VET toolkit for tackling early leaving.

Tip 2: Foster career management skills among young people

Appropriate guidance develops an individual’s competence in managing themselves, their learning and career. It enables NEETs to develop an understanding of their competences and interests, as well as to plan and manage their own learning and work paths.

Career management skills development should be encouraged from an early stage through training and career development activities. Examples include self-assessment exercises, training in personal management (e.g. time, networking), sourcing and using career information, and defining career plans and objectives. Online resources and blended learning strategies may be very valuable in developing career-oriented skills for young people outside the education system.

Employers can also help young people to acquire career management skills. Together with guidance services and other key stakeholders, employers play an important role in promoting young people’s understanding of the workplace. At local level, employers can develop curricula materials, offer career talks, site visits, work shadowing and placements (such as internships or apprenticeships). 

Tip 3: Provide lifelong guidance especially during transition phases

Inactivity should be viewed as a transitional status, with supports taking a long-term perspective. Career management skills develop over time, with different competences mastered at different stages of life. Career guidance helps young people who are NEETs to develop the right competences to return to education, training or employment. Guidance also has a preventive role in identifying young people at risk of being NEET and supporting them to define their options so as to achieve a successful transition from education to employment.

Tip 4: Use guidance to raise individual’s awareness of their own potential

Guidance should promote self-awareness and put NEETs in control of their own decisions, based on their competences, interests and aspirations. The role of career guidance professionals is to support NEETs via reflective questioning and self-assessment. They can also ensure that NEETs are fully informed of the range of options to make informed career decisions. Ideally, a practitioner is non-directive but, rather, acts as a qualified critical partner who helps a young person to map and navigate their own learning and work.

Tip 5: Ensure coordination between guidance providers and other relevant services

Coordination between guidance practitioners and other relevant professionals supporting NEETs ensures that no one is left behind, achieves comprehensive service provision and avoids the duplication of work. Coordination allows for the continuous exchange of information to capture and review the latest learning opportunities considering local labour market needs. It thus ensures that NEETs can access all of the services and information they need to manage their careers, irrespective of the first point of contact.

Coordination is also about providing personalised, holistic and comprehensive supports to NEETs, who often have complex needs and face many challenges. This approach emphasises multi-faceted support, with multiple feedback mechanisms and structured referrals across relevant services (education, youth centres, social services, PES, health services). It can be used by mainstream education and training providers, which promotes partnerships with the relevant support services and the use of effective communication channels and tools (e.g. personal portfolios). Coordination and referrals across different services guarantee ongoing contact with NEETs, activities tailored to their needs, and growing trust between support workers and NEETs.

All parties have an ethical duty to protect the confidentiality of NEETs’ private and sensitive information in accordance with data protection laws. Production of individualised career data (e.g. portfolios) should give the individual control and ownership of their information.

Tip 6: Provide one-to-one coaching and/or mentoring support to young people

Coaching and mentoring offer individuals and groups the support they need to overcome personal barriers and realise their potential. These activities provide one-to-one support on an ongoing basis and are thus well-suited to the needs of NEETs. While coaching only lasts until the achievement of set objectives, mentoring is a longer term support whose objectives can evolve over time. Mentoring activities are highly influenced by the skills, value, systems and personality of the mentors, as well as their ability to act as role models.

Both coaching and mentoring can help to raise NEETs’ learning motivation. They can also help with the transition into education, training or employment, and empower young people to formulate goals for the future. Both approaches are based on the development of trust, where the young person considers their coach/mentor to be neutral or ‘on their side’.

Mentors often play a key role in socialising newly arrived young people into the work culture, facilitating frictionless integration. Employers can also serve as mentors, helping young people to gain realistic insights into the world of work and to understand how they can gain valuable knowledge, skills and competences for the future.

Read more on coaching and mentoring in Cedefop VET toolkit for tackling early leaving.

Tip 7: Integrate relevant labour market information into guidance

Access to up-to-date, high quality labour market information is crucial in guiding NEETs in their career choices. Guidance professionals have a significant role to play in providing relevant information on the skills and training required for the occupations that are of interest to their young people. Career guidance also focuses on developing the individual’s skills to gather, analyse and act on labour market information, based on their own interests and ambitions.

A range of tools and strategies can be used in both face-to-face or remote delivery of services:

  • Up-to-date and high-quality information on training and job opportunities.
  • Relevant information on occupations and sectors of activity.
  • Information on salaries, workplaces and in-work progression pathways for different occupations or sectors.
  • Information and advice on future skill demands and changing skillsets within occupations.
  • Self-assessment questionnaires exploring a person’s suitability for specific career pathways.
  • Learning activities aimed at selecting, sorting and understanding information and its utility.

Cedefop has developed a toolkit to help practitioners to integrate labour market information into their guidance, making use of ICT tools. Practitioners can build their own portfolio of the labour market resources they consider useful for informing clients and/or developing their own materials.

Tip 8: Offer a wide variety of activities, including experiences

Career guidance includes a variety of activities that contribute to the development of career management skills, such as:

  • One-to-one conversations and group sessions with a career guidance practitioner.
  • Conversations with role models, to increase motivation.
  • Peer support mediated by trained professionals.
  • Information/resources from various types of media.
  • Support and advice on how to prepare a CV and complete an application form.
  • Attitudes and social skills training, including mock interviews to build up skills and confidence.
  • Self-directed and supported assessments of needs, aspirations and attitudes to clarify career choices and aptitudes.
  • Skills audits to identify existing skills and competences and inform the development of an individual plan for next steps in learning, training or employment.
  • Work simulations or ‘discovery workshops’ whereby NEETs experiment with different occupations or work environments in order to make informed career decisions.
  • Conversations with employers and job shadowing opportunities.

Related resources

    Good practices
    Good practice

    400+Future is a low threshold programme that targets young NEETs to support them to re-engage in education and training activities. The programme offers individualised support and practical experience in a variety of vocational fields as well as the opportunity to attain a lower secondary education certificate.

    Good practice
    Integrated guidance and support for vocational education pathways for highly disadvantaged youth beyond the status of NEET

    The aim of the practice is to change the status of young people from (beyond) NEETs to SEEDs (Searching for Education Employment and Development)[1].


    [1] İbrahim Çelik, spacelab_umwelt (Offene und Aufsuchende Jugendarbeit)

    Good practice
    Projeto CLICK-Ativar Competências para a Empregabilidade

    CLICK functions as a mediation project between job supply and demand, working as a complementary tool to public employment services. The scope of this project is twofold including the development of soft skills among vulnerable or unemployed people and actions for raising awareness about social responsibility among potential employers. By joining efforts with multiple stakeholders and working closely with the actual beneficiaries, the project aims to make the “click” in their lives.

    Good practice
    Rete Integrata per i Giovani del Vicentino

    In Italy, one of the main difficulties of the Youth Guarantee Programme in the course of the first phase was to reach and engage the most discouraged NEETs from social backgrounds characterised by high levels of poverty that affected their ability to enter and remain within training and education courses, to gain work experience and to find out about the possibilities offered by the Programme.

    Good practice
    Διακρατικό Κέντρο Απασχόλησης YOUTHShare, Ελληνικό Παράρτημα

    The Transnational Employment Branch of YOUTHShare in Greece adopts, adapts and elaborates on the new practices for work inclusion based on Ripples in the Water Methodology from Norway -NHO- Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises). Based on this methodology, the YOUTHShare employment Centre and its staff aims through a person-centred and empower-focused approach at matching effectively the jobseeker with a potential employer.


    The YOUTHShare e-learning platform offers skills on resilient sectors of the Mediterranean economy, specially designed for NEETs.

    Eurofound's thematic area on NEETs

    The website summarizes Eurofound's extensive research on NEETs

    Achieving more effective transitions between education and work

    This report examines the quality of the curriculum offer and careers guidance in place at key transition points from education into work, and looks at how it might be improved.

    Policy and practice to harness future potential

    This Cedefop study aims at better understanding how guidance supports entrepreneurship learning and contributes to the development of entrepreneurs’ career management skills.

    Volume I: investigating causes and extent

    This Cedefop study examines the contribution that vocational education and training (VET) can make to reducing early leaving from education and training (ELET).

    Volume II: evaluating policy impact

    This Cedefop study focuses on the contribution that vocational education and training (VET) can make to reducing early leaving from education and training (ELET).

    How to work with NEETs - A Toolkit for local administrations

    At EU level NEETs (Not in Employment Education or Training) are considered one of the most problematic groups in the context of youth unemployment. The aim of the NET not NEET project was to enhance networking and co-operation amongst public and private actors.