Young people born in boom times have been hit hard by the past five years of the global financial crisis.
Those not working, training or in education number about 50,000, or 13.4 per cent.
However, rates in this group vary with Maori youth at 22.7 per cent compared with European youth on 11.7 per cent.
Sometimes called the Y-Generation, also known as i-Gens, this age group's entry into the workforce comes at a time when the world teeters on emerging from half a decade of depression or falling back into it.
Matt Rilkoff asked some of them for their experiences and hopes in a world struggling to pay its bills.
Ethon Field, 19: Expelled from Spotswood College four years ago, Ethon has held at least a dozen low- paid part-time jobs since. In his last cleaning job he took home about $180 a week for 15 hours' work. Currently unemployed, he has applied for 30 jobs in the past month. He is without recognised qualifications and cannot afford to move out of home.
"In the past few months I have applied for at least 30 or 40 jobs. I get no replies from most of them.
"At this stage I want anything to help me financially. I'm hoping to go back into delivery driving or maybe try retail.
"I know I will get one one day. There are jobs out there. They are just hard to get.
"I made about $180 a week in my last job. I come out for myself with maybe $30 or $40. I put about $60 in the car, the rest goes to my parents. If I need to get new clothes I try to put some away.
"I want to be a police officer or security guard maybe. I must admit I don't know what it is about those things, I just have always wanted to become one. I can't remember what you need to do to become a police officer. I've been meaning to go in and ask to see if my wrist is OK and whatnot. I broke it about three years ago. That might be a problem.
"I have thought about doing some more training. But before I do that I was planning on looking into what sort of training I get and what variety of jobs there are.
"As in, straight away after training, will I get straight into employment? Will it be worth going into debt? In the end will I have employment straight away to start paying it off?
"I am enjoying life. I don't know what's good about it but you always find a way around it and money isn't everything."
Elise Kendall, 17: When school finished, Elise just pumped up her hours working at Opunake's Headlands hotel. University beckons but she wants a year earning money first. She will be the first in her family to attend university and plans to enrol at Massey to study towards a bachelor of arts majoring in psychology.
"Opunake is like a giant family. I think because it's such a small place and everyone knows everyone maybe the values we have are different to people from bigger places. I'm definitely excited about the future.
"I am saving up for university just so I can have a bit of extra money and make things easier for myself. I'm taking the year off to do it. I can't get a student allowance and it will be difficult to work fulltime to pay for my accommodation and bills while I am at university.
"I plan on doing a bachelor of arts in psychology. I have always been interested in how the mind works and everything that goes with that. Hopefully there will be a job at the end. In psychology you can go into different aspects, it branches into a wide range of things.
"But getting a job doesn't really influence my choice. As long as I am doing what I like to do I think I should be all right. Money is always important but you don't need heaps and heaps of it.
"It's good to be optimistic. I think the future will be better than it is now. I'm not really worried about the economy.
"In 10 years I hope I have my degree. I don't really know what job I want after that. Family is definitely part of my future. But I want to get myself sorted first so I am in a good place for that."
Hayden Walkington, 17: While still at school, Hayden undertook work experience with Hawera's Croucher and Crowder Engineering and has been one of a lucky few to secure a three-year apprenticeship. For the next year at least he's likely to be making minimum wage and intends to live at home. He couldn't be happier.
"My gateway teacher said you change your job every 10 years in the workforce. I hope I don't do that. I just really enjoy being in the workshop. It's a privilege. I have friends who haven't been able to get any work. Most of them are still going to school and haven't decided what they are going to do yet.
"If I didn't get the apprenticeship, I would still be at school. Education is important. I think getting this apprenticeship is pretty lucky. You do have to have a good, high-quality education but it's not like going to be a doctor. You don't have to go to university for seven or eight years. There is only a limited amount of apprenticeships each year. That's why I feel lucky.
"Unemployment is a worry. It's definitely hard to find work and, if you don't have work, you can't support a family, things like that. I do want a family but that will come later on. Depends on how stable things are.
"Working with older people in a workshop will be a big change. I'm looking forward to work; I know I'll enjoy it. Stability is important to me.
"Money hasn't influenced me but, when I am older, I would like to be going high up in the ranks in the workshop. It always means bigger money and that's always better."
Mackenzie Riddick, 17: Dux of Hawera High School. Mackenzie will next year go to Otago University in Dunedin to study towards a bachelor of commerce majoring in accounting and finance. With a firm goal of becoming a chartered accountant, she plans to spend the summer waitressing at Tairoa Lodge and keeping up athletics training for her 200m and 400m specialties.
"I chose my degree because I enjoy accounting, economics and maths at school and there are quite a lot of opportunities in the business world. If you get a degree and it's not going to take you anywhere there is not much point in doing it.
"I'm not worried about getting a job. The economy is growing. There will always be a need for people to look into accounts and how the business world is operating.
"The global financial crisis hasn't influenced me at all. I haven't even thought about it really. All of my friends are going to university. I think it will be a big change leaving high school. I have had the same group of friends and a few of my teachers have been the same. I guess you get into a routine but I am looking forward to it.
"My sister is down there and she really enjoys it. It's quite a student city. It's not like a big city and the business course has a good reputation there."
"I'm quite motivated. I enjoy what I do and I want to do well in what I do. I guess I strive for the top. There were quite a few people in year 13 this year, maybe about 80 to 100. I think a lot more people are realising the importance of gaining NCEA and staying in school because there are not the same jobs without qualifications.
"In 10 years I am not sure where I will live. Probably in a city, probably not here. I've lived here all my life but I think my parents just want us to have as many opportunities as we can. So if that means leaving here they are all right with it."
Andy Gargiulo, 23: Even before he finished his degree in 2011, Andy had employment in New Plymouth with Halliburton, one of the world's largest oilfield services companies.
The chemical and process engineering graduate works as many as 60 hours a week in a job which, among other things, involves designing the cement casings of oil and gas wells.
First-year engineers earn between $45,000 and $90,000. Salaries can quickly increase with experience.
"Even right up until halfway through the end of my last year, I didn't really know where I would end up. With chemical and processing, you can end up in 100 different industries and fields.
"I didn't expect to end up in Taranaki, but I'm happy I have.
"It's not as if I was a kid who always wanted to grow up and be an engineer. But at school I was into maths and all the sciences and it's a popular thing to do these days - become an engineer. There is a lot of demand for it. You can make a good career out of it.
"The thing with Halliburton is you could be on any continent in the world in a few years.
"Five years down the track I'd like to work somewhere off the beaten track. Quite a few people are going to North Africa. A lot is going on in South America, and Australia is picking up.
"Five years on, I would hopefully be moved on from Taranaki. There is a lot more money to be made overseas and you can do your travel while you are working.
"The money wasn't a huge thing. We make pretty good money, but we earn it. We work weekends and long days when no- one else wants to be working.
"I've seen the global financial crisis on the news, like everyone. As a student, you've already got no money, so you're not really affected.
"We weren't too worried, because in engineering there are generally a lot of jobs going."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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