Young Workers Index 2016

Empowering a new generation: how governments and businesses can unlock a $1 trillion prize.



Every person is born with potential: the key is unlocking that potential. So, how can we provide opportunities that empower young people to take ownership over their own future outcomes? 

You can download our new Young Workers Index report by clicking below, where we discuss how governments and businesses can reap the rewards from playing their part in making this happen. You can also explore key findings from the research and use our new interactive tool to delve deeper into the data below.  


How to harness the economic potential of #youngworkers? #PwC presents best practices here

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Key findings

Our new research shows how well each of the OECD countries are developing the economic potential of youth and how this has changed over time. We also estimate the potential economic gain from getting young people into employment, education or training. Here are five key findings you need to know:

  • Switzerland continues to top the table, closely followed by Germany and Austria. The Nordic countries also perform strongly but Southern European countries like Spain, Greece and Italy fare less well. 
  • The total economic gain across the OECD could be over $1 trillion from improving performance of younger workers in the long-term.
  • The UK fell 1 place in the rankings between 2006 and 2014, from 21st place to 22nd but more recently recovered to its original position in 2015. 
  • If the UK could lower NEET rates to German levels, GDP could be around 2.3% higher in the long run, equivalent to around £45 billion at today's values.
  • Governments could learn from other countries such as Germany, who have engaged employers in order to introduce 'dual education systems' and focus on social inclusion in their youth policy. 
Young Workers Index: 2016 country rankings


Explore the data

Use our new interactive data tool to explore how your country compares in the Young Workers Index by simply clicking on your country and year of choice. You can also find out how labour market trends have changed over time, such as youth unemployment rates and educational participation. 


Explore by selecting a date and country
  • 2006
  • 2011
  • 2014
  • 2015
    NEET rate
    % of age group (20-24 years old)
    NEET gap with Germany
    % of age group
    GDP impact of reducing NEET rates to German levels (2015 estimate only)
    % of GDP
    USD billions
    Youth unemployment % of labour force (15-24 year olds)
    Educational enrolment
    % in education (15-19 year olds)
    Index score and rank
    OECD averageavg
    Note: N/A indicates no comparable annual data available. * Country excluded from analysis as NEET rate is below German levels.
    Sources: OECD for historical data, PwC estimates of potential long-term GDP impacts.



    The statistics in our research reveal some important trends. But we shouldn't forget that these trends will have a long-term impact on the life opportunities of real people on the ground. We've provided four illustrative examples below of how the experience of young people can vary across countries. These are hypothetical cases, but reflect aspects of our research findings for each of these countries.


    Meet Jan: the apprentice without student debt

    Jan finished secondary school and chose to pursue the vocational route, rather than academic education. This dual-track vocational education and training allowed Jan to undertake an apprenticeship alongside classroom learning and he has now completed two industry-recognised qualifications.

    Meet Sarah: the university graduate who can’t find a permanent job

    Sarah needs to work two jobs to pay her bills. She has been free-lancing as a photographer for the past year but is struggling to land herself a permanent job with enough hours. She says: “The jobs that I’m applying for just don’t require the skills I have.”

    Meet Min-ji: young mother facing barriers at work

    It took 11 months for Min-ji to find her first job, as employers were reluctant to hire mothers with young children. Many of her friends are reluctant to start families due to the difficulties of getting good jobs afterwards. Min-ji said: “The government is trying to break down significant cultural barriers that hinder the employment prospects for young mothers but we still have a long way to go.”

    Meet Enrique: school-leaver unsure about the future

    Enrique has left school but is uncertain about career options, in particular, alternative options to higher education. Enrique is interested in engineering but has had little interaction with employers and not gained any experience in a working environment. He would be interested in vocational education but does not have sufficient information to make an informed choice.

    Contact us

    John Hawksworth
    Chief UK Economist
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 1650

    David Tran
    Economics & Policy Consultant
    Tel: +44 (0)207 804 3991

    Hannah Audino
    Tel: +44 (0)207 212 8746

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