Skip to content Skip to footer

Loading Results

Youth Employment Index 2018

The potential £40 billion prize from boosting youth employment, education and training in the UK


We produce three annual indices comparing UK labour market performance with that in other OECD countries: our Women in Work Index, our Golden Age Index for older workers and our Youth Employment Index.

This year's update of the latter index shows that the UK and other OECD countries have continued to make progress on a number of indicators of youth employment, education and training. Switzerland and Germany again occupy positions at the top of the index, while Japan has moved up from fifth to third place. The UK has also seen its ranking rise from 20th to 19th place, but remains some way below the top performers.

In this edition, we explore the key drivers of youth unemployment rates and discuss in detail how governments and business have successfully supported youth.

In our analysis of the GDP gain from lowering NEET (not in education, employment or training) rates of 20-24 year olds to German levels, we find that the OECD could experience a long-term gain of around $1.2 trillion. For the UK, the potential long run gain could be around £40 billion.

View the key findings of our research and explore the results further using our interactive data tool. We provide more detailed analysis and commentary in the full report, which you can download below.


Key findings

Our Youth Employment Index is a weighted average of eight indicators which reflect the labour-market impact of workers aged 15 to 24 in OECD countries, including employment, education and training. The key findings from our 2018 report are as follows:

  • Switzerland, Germany and Japan take the top three spots on the index.
  • There continues to be a wide disparity in the outcomes for young people across the OECD – NEET rates range from 6% in Iceland to more than 30% in Turkey and Italy.
  • The UK's position in the index remains middling, but it has moved up one place to 19th this year and its absolute index score has improved as youth unemployment has fallen significantly in recent years.
  • There's a considerable regional disparity in the UK, with NEET rates ranging from 9% in the South West to 14% in the North East. Our analysis of UK apprenticeship and education reforms suggests there is still room for improvement to rival the German and Swiss systems. 
  • The OECD could achieve a $1.2 trillion boost to GDP in the long-term if countries lowered their NEET rates of those aged 20-24 to match German levels. For the UK, the potential gain could be around £40 billion in the long run.
  • Our econometric analysis of the key drivers of youth unemployment suggests that higher levels of economic growth and greater levels of employment of older workers are associated with lower youth unemployment rates. 
  • We also discuss common features of the Youth Employment Index’s top performing countries, which include high educational attainment, high-quality vocational training opportunities and high level of support for young disadvantaged people. 
  • Businesses could do more to improve prospects for workers, such as offering high-quality training opportunities, achieving a diversity of perspective in the workplace, and incentivising workers through means other than pay.  

Explore the data

Use our new interactive data tool to explore how your country compares in the Youth Employment Index by simply clicking on your country of choice. 


Explore by selecting a country
    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
    % of GDP
    USD billions
    unemployment rate
    % of labour force
    (15-24 year olds)
    Index ranking
    OECD averageavg
    Youth Employment Index score relative to OECD average
    United Kingdom
    OECD Average
    * Country excluded from analysis as NEET rate is below German levels.
    Sources: OECD for historical data, PwC analysis for estimates of long-term GDP impacts. Latest available data used: unemployment rates (2017), NEET rates (2016) except for Chile, Germany and Ireland which use NEET rates (2015). Korea uses the OECD average NEET rate as no available data.

    Contact us

    Carmen Cheung

    Carmen Cheung

    Economist, PwC United Kingdom

    Tel: +44 (0)7843 360 416

    Follow us