Photo: Daniel Lewandowski, 18, has not been able to find a landscaping apprenticeship. (ABC Coffs Coast: Meghna Bali)
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A lack of full-time job prospects and endless rejections has left young people in regional Australia feeling bleak about their futures.The Brotherhood of St Laurence has released a report revealing the worst hotspots for youth unemployment, with Queensland's outback region topping the list at 67.1 per cent.
Every single hotspot has a youth unemployment rate above 16 per cent, in stark contrast to the national figure of 12 per cent.
The rate is almost 30 per cent in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, followed by the Wide Bay region of Queensland, Tasmania's south-east, the Murray region and the Coffs Coast.
Give us a go, teen saysCoffs Harbour teenager Daniel Lewandowski finished school at the end of last year and said he had been looking for a landscaping apprenticeship for the past four months.
"Most places in Coffs are looking for already qualified people," he said.
"I feel that if a person is looking for an apprentice they should just give anyone a go, and if they're not fit for that job then look for another one.
"I guess you really have to think back to when you were that age and how scary and confronting it is to go to interviews and meet people.
"You just have to give us a chance to prove ourselves."
The 18-year-old said despite joining an employment program, polishing his resume, getting his compulsory white card and applying for several jobs, he had not had any luck.
"It makes you feel unwanted and that you're not really worth much," he said."I guess that's why young people move out of Coffs … but I believe it's a lovely place to live and I think it'd be great if there were more positions available for youth."
Growing disparity between metro and regionalBrotherhood of St Laurence principal advisor public affairs and policy Farah Farouque said five hotspots with youth unemployment rates greater than 20 per cent were all in regional areas.
"That suggests the benefits of economic growth aren't spread evenly and the people living in those regions are doing it tough," she said.
"The globalised modern economy is raining hard especially on disadvantaged young people."
She also noted big structural changes as the economy moved to services-based manufacturing, an industry that used to take on young school leavers.
Ms Farouque said the way forward was to focus on local economic development.
"The key solution is to renew our efforts through labour market programs and the education system," she said.
"Vocational education is an engine room for equity."
Ms Faroque said working with local employers, businesses and schools and tapping into the community effort of those areas would spread opportunities.
Photo: Daniel Lewandowski says a lack of opportunities is forcing young people out of Coffs Harbour (ABC Coffs Coast: Meghna Bali)
Connecting with local job programsNon-profit recruitment agencies such as Enterprise and Training Company (ETC) in Coffs Harbour help young jobseekers prepare for the workforce by brushing up their interview techniques, doing a skills assessment and setting out a job plan.
Chief operating office Damon Munt said local job programs often provided a range of engagement opportunities.
"No doubt it's tough out there, but actually connecting with those programs and putting yourself out there and engaging in things like internships, does make a difference," he said.
Mr Munt said part-time jobs in hospitality and work placements provided foundational job skills, making those undertaking them more employable.