North Island youth say they continue to be frustrated by lack of opportunity and are forced to look elsewhere for gainful employment.
“I do want to get back into retail, but there aren’t that many openings, not at this time of year anyway,” said Stacy Robinson, aged 22, who was laid-off from her last job at a fish processing plant two months ago.
A young man, who gave his name as Josh, said he suspected he had a “50 per cent” hope of finding a job locally.
“Just too many people and not enough jobs,” said Josh.
However, there are resources unemployed people on the North Island can turn to.
Most are offered by the North Island Employment Foundations Society (NIEFS), including the Skills for Success program.
“It helps youth who are having difficulty getting occupational training, it prepares them for work and they actually get job placements where they go out and work for a local employer,” said NIEFS executive director Doug Preston.
The program works this way: the applicant chooses a local job he or she is interested in and work at the business for three months, during which they gain valuable experience and are paid minimum wage by NIEFS.
“I think the barriers that youth often face is getting that first chance to get the experience that they need,” said Preston.
Yet Robinson said she certainly doesn’t lack experience.
“I’ve been on different jobs since I was twelve, sort of a jack of all trades,” she said.
The problem appears to be a simple lack of open positions, said Preston.
“I think that for youth in rural communities it can be a difficult labour market transition because the labour market is quite seasonal and there may not be opportunities for them to get experienced in careers they’re interested in, just because it’s a smaller market and it could be difficult if they don’t have the skills required by the employer.”
He added most careers on the North Island revolve around a limited set of industries, such as forestry and fishing, and even these are usually seasonal.
Ultimately, North Island youth must either gear their education and training to specific fields or find jobs elsewhere, Preston said.