NEARLY one in five young people in the Northern Rivers are unemployed, according to new research from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
We spoke with a business expert, job creation agencies, social workers and a politician about how we can lower the 19.8% youth unemployment rate.
TURSA Employment and Training general manager Debbie Fry believes an individual approach is needed.
"It's not a one size fits all approach," she said.
"There are a range of services and options to get the training and skills needed for a range of employment.
Our rate of unemployment is disgusting. It's something in our region I'm quite ashamed about
- NSW Chamber of Commerce regional manager John Murray
"For every young person, they need to realise they just need to get that one job.
"Don't give up and keep engaging with employment providers and your wider network - family and friends can sometimes make the difference."
NSW Chamber of Commerce regional manager John Murray, who has over 25 years' business experience, said exorbitant penalty rates are resulting in less employment opportunities, particularly for youth.
"Our rate of unemployment is disgusting. It's something in our region I'm quite ashamed about," he said.
"The unintended consequences of high penalty rates on weekends and public holidays is that businesses choose not to open and employ people. It hits youth really hard."
Mr Murray says the Federal Government needs to find a middle ground that meets the needs of employers and employees.
NORTEC Employment and Training's marketing coordinator, Michelle Dowding, said getting a foot in the door is crucial.
"Volunteer, offer to do work experience. Any start is good," she said.
"A lot of young people often want a job which is a few steps ahead of their skills.
"Every step you take is at least bringing you closer to your goal. Attitude is everything."
Northern Rivers Social Development Council social worker Steve Smith works with some of the most disadvantaged youth in our community.
He thinks "maintaining strong links to education and training" is important for all jobseekers, but especially those emerging from difficult situations.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said: "The Government's new measures will help make young people work ready ... if you are not earning you are learning".
He encouraged young local jobseekers to dive into education and training.
"We live in a great area. I encourage all young people to learn as much as they can and ensure they are work ready for the future," he said.
- Hospitality and retail employ the most people our region, followed by construction, health and community services, education, professional services, manufacturing and agriculture.
- Health and community services is the fastest growing employing industry, mainly due to our ageing population.
- Small businesses, employing 20 staff or less, make up 95% of local businesses.
- Empathy will be the most sought after skill in the next 20 years due to a rise in care and service industries.