And this category of young people, known as Neets, seems to be growing and growing, according to the latest official figures.
Here, young people tell us, in their own words, how they are trying to make it in the world of work.
I have two degrees, a 2:1 in politics, and a 2:2 in law, as well as a post-graduate law diploma. Despite all this, I have zero prospects.
I've had no replies to more than 100 applications to different law firms looking for both jobs and work experience I've made over the last year, and only two interviews from the 90 plus applications I've made for graduate and lower level jobs I've applied for over the last two months.
My age group, whether they are graduates or not, are being abandoned because most jobs are now requiring prior work experience, and how are we meant to get that if we can't get jobs in the first place?
I'm now suffering from depression and severe anxiety, including panic attacks.
I'm trapped without a job because minimum-wage employers say I'm too educated and graduate employers say I have no work experience.
I've been struggling ever since I left school to find a career.
I come under the label of Neet at 22 years of age with no redeeming qualifications and very little prospects.
I've changed my career path from IT to teaching, gaining experience in nursery and invigilating exams in secondary schools.
I left school at 16 and have done different jobs, like work in a call centre, as well as voluntary work.
I'm hoping to get a placement as a teaching assistant (TA).
The job centre has been advising me to look for work in admin, retail and areas like that.
I am finding it tough at the moment, but my passion is teaching, so I'm hoping that, once September comes round, a school will agree to take me on as a TA.
I left school with my GCSEs when I was 16 and went into a hairdressing apprenticeship, but I lost that due to a medical issue.
I was unemployed, but took up a foundation learning course with Landmark Training.
I'm now doing a trial period with an organisation called Business in the Community, which advises businesses to be more responsible.
I'm really enjoying it so far, the people are very friendly and I'm hoping it will lead to full-time work.
I have found it challenging - it's harder for young people to find a job.
If I was asked to give advice to young people, it would be to get your head down and work hard.
Apprenticeships may be great for some people in this category, but what about others like me?
I'm an unemployed graduate and I bet they make up a substantial chunk of this figure.
We've already gotten ourselves into debt for three or four years to have a better chance of getting a job, but there just aren't enough jobs out there.
Maybe if the government removed barriers to being on Jobseeker's Allowance whilst volunteering, then more graduates would be able to gain the necessary experience to get a job after graduation.
A degree isn't enough to a graduate job now, you have to have gotten experience of your chosen career too.
For anyone who didn't do this while they were a student - because they were concentrating on studying or working a part-time job to keep their head above water - they are now stuck, because they have no good way to gain experience and afford to live.
My 18-year-old son finished a mechanics course in July, sent out 20 CVs to local garages by first class post, received a reply by phone the next day, had an interview the day after, and started the job a few days later. Was he just lucky? I don't think so. I have always taught him to be motivated and determined, and he went the right way about getting a job. If young people get the right encouragement and advice from their parents they can achieve what my son did. Mike, Ivybridge, Devon.
I found myself as a Neet back 20 years ago and was going off the rails. I decided to join HM forces to gain some self respect, respect for others, training, a career, a sense of purpose - the list goes on. Perhaps the possibility of National Service should be looked at again to help find today's Neet youth the same sense of direction and self-respect. If they don't respect themselves, they're not going to respect others. Adrian George, Llanelli.
I work with lots of Neet teenagers. It's wrong to say that the majority don't want to work. They want to work but feel there is nothing. What chances are there when traditional apprenticeships like engineering are few and far between? We need to be encouraging companies to set up in this country - not take their manufacturing to the Far East, where workers earn a pittance and work in harsh conditions. Bring back the manufacturing, bring back the jobs and apprenticeships. David Ford, Chesterfield.
Entrenched Neet young people are not prepared for work for a reason. They are not taught how to be employable at school or the job centre. It is hard enough to convince employers to give a young person with basic work experience and qualifications a job, let alone a criminal record or a list of support needs. Elaine McCulloch, Sutton.