On the job
Manawatu youth are among the thousands of Kiwis upskilling to find their feet in the work force.
The latest Household Labour Force Survey shows an estimated 28,500 15 to 24-year-olds gained employment in the past year.
The positive results can be seen in Palmerston North and the surrounding districts, employment and education providers say.
Cadence Kingi left school at 14 after realising book work was not his forte but then struggled to find a job.
"I knew you had to have the qualifications and the papers, which I didn't, so I didn't even try really," he said.
A year ago Cadence, now 16, sought help from Start Youth Transition - a community service that puts teenagers in touch with education providers, trainers and tertiary institutes.
He went through several schemes which taught him life skills, before he won a scholarship to attend UCOL and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre's Certificate in General Farm Skills course.
The hands-on programme, which combines theory and technical skills with practical farm work, saw Cadence complete a level 3 qualification and secure employment soon after.
"[When I started looking], within 10 minutes I found a job on Fencepost [an online job search tool] that I liked and suited me, I sussed out a time for an interview and had a job a week later - it was pretty out of it."
Cadence works on a 500-cow dairy farm in Dannevirke earning more than double the $175 he used to claim weekly on the Youth Allowance.
"It's been a massive change. I never expected myself to be doing something like this until I was a lot older than what I am," he said.
"I used to just want to be young and hang out with my mates, but I've matured, stopped acting like a kid and started acting like a man.
"There's a lot of people that have helped me out, and without them I'd still be in a hole, doing nothing and going nowhere."
Start manager Peter Butler said there was an influx of young people applying for courses, upskilling and reaping the rewards by finding work.
"The rise in training opportunities and schemes here in Palmy have seen the number [of youth finding work] increase.
"What we're seeing is more young people are moving into those areas, getting qualifications and doing really well, which makes them employable."
More youth are also taking up training through the U-Skills Central Schools Academy at UCOL, which is offering 260 places this year, up from 100 last year.
U-Skills Central Schools Academy manager Jacqui Phillips said the programmes gave young people the chance to taste-test career options while gaining academic credit, which helped them into further training or employment.
The Government says its youth schemes, including the Youth Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Reboot and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training, are finally bearing fruit. The focus on young people was paying off, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said.