Executive summary

The economic and social crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting young people hard and is a reminder of the strong and prolonged impact of the 2008 global financial crisis on youth labour market outcomes. After that crisis, Slovenia experienced a 56% increase in the rate of young people aged 15-29 who are neither in employment, education or training (NEETs). A decade later, the NEET rate was still above the 2007 rate. Estimated at 29 000, 9.5% of all 15-29 year-old Slovenians were NEET in 2019, slightly below the OECD average.

A better understanding of the NEET’s profiles is key to design better support and improve the school to work transition. NEETs in Slovenia are more likely to be women; they are often older youth; and an increasing share of NEETs are born abroad. About half of all Slovenian NEETs (53%) remain in this status for more than a year, risking a negative impact on their future employment opportunities and income. Low education and being a mother are the strongest determinants of the NEET duration in Slovenia.

Young people who complete their education during an economic downturn generally struggle more than those who finish education during boom periods, and the COVID-19 crisis will likely be no exception. Nevertheless, educational and other preventive policies can reduce individuals’ risks of dropout and ensure that young people acquire relevant skills for the changing labour market. Slovenia already has a strong education system that leads most students to an upper-secondary degree and a relatively smooth transition into the labour market. However, a few additional measures to prevent early school leaving, reduce skill mismatches, strengthen work-based learning and reach out to school dropouts could help to better prepare young people for the labour market.

The main government agency which supports labour market integration of unemployed and inactive NEETs is the Employment Service of Slovenia (ESS). However, more than half of all Slovenian NEETs (53%) do not register with the ESS. Outreach to hidden NEETs, who are often older inactive young people without work experience, is therefore crucial to bring down the NEET rate in Slovenia. In line with the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, support for young jobseekers has improved over the past couple of years. However, Slovenia still devotes relatively few resources to labour market programmes compared with other OECD countries; especially long-term unemployed youth require more attention, in particular young mothers, migrant youth and Roma youth.

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