Minister of Employment Willie Jackson has announced $1.6 million for the next two years to the TradeUp partnership and Pathways programme.

"Skills are everything, young people are everything," he said.

The announcement was made at BCITO in Mount Maunganui this morning.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick and Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless were at the announcement.

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Minister of Employment Willie Jackson was in Tauranga to launch Pathway to Trades, a new programme under He Poutama Rangatahi in the Bay of Plenty.

He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) is a pilot initiative that supports rangatahi aged 15-24 who are most at risk of long-term unemployment and who are not in education, employment or training.

A Pathway to Trades spokesman said the funds would be used to support at risk youth in the Western Bay of Plenty and Rotorua aged 16-17 into fulltime employment.

"They are what we believe are the invisible unemployed," he said.

The spokesman said the goal was to get 100 rangatahi (youth) in into fulltime employment in the next 12 months.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said, "Let's get these kids work ready".

"This is truly significant," she said.

"This brings back what we said we needed in 1999."

Mayor Greg Brownless said having a trade is a good skill to have.

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"The skills that are learned in these areas are very marketable and have value in the community."

List MPs Angie Warren Clark and Jan Tinetti were also at the launch.