Youth unemployment in the Bay of Plenty dropped by more than 60 per cent last year and Tauranga's buoyant economy was likely to see the trend continue, Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby says.
Mr Crosby said the key to combating youth unemployment was building a strong local economy instead of a "bottom of the cliff" approach.
"When people are unemployed it creates a whole lot of other social issues ... for my mind the best outcome is for every single person to be employed."
About 1600 Bay of Plenty young people aged 15-19 are out of work, according to Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey for the December 2013 quarter. However, the number of unemployed youths not in education or training has dropped from 2500 in December 2012 to fewer than 1000 in December 2013.
Nationwide 8.1 per cent of 15-19 year olds are unemployed and not in education or training, while the current overall unemployment rate sits at 6 per cent.
The nationwide Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, a network of all New Zealand mayors, held its first workshop last month to create an urgent plan to address regional youth unemployment.
Mr Crosby said the Taskforce often took the "bottom of the cliff" approach, but a stronger approach was to build a local economy that would create employment opportunities.
"Youth in this area tend to be last on the employment ladder and first off if something goes wrong, so that can be very challenging for them to get some stability. In Tauranga and the Western Bay we're very fortunate that our economy is rapidly picking up."
The booming Tauranga construction industry would require youths of all abilities, he said.
Perseverance pays off for excited teen
After a year of job hunting and about 500 job applications, a Tauranga teen is thrilled to finally have work.
Jason Young, 19, got a job cleaning the machines at North Island Mussel Processors about seven weeks ago. "It's really enjoyable. It's the people there and the type of work. I'm able to save up for things."
There was also plenty of room for him to learn new things and move up the ranks, he said.
The Matua resident completed a 13-week travel and tourism course at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic but still had no joy.
Mr Young said he applied for anything and everything. "No one was looking [for staff] ... they wanted more experience ..."
The key to getting a job was perseverance, he said.
"Just never give up."
- Amy McGillivray