New Zealand's soaring youth unemployment rate was a reflection of the state of the economy, and bore no link to the absence of a youth minimum wage in New Zealand, Unite Union's Mike Treen said.

Latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show 19.4 per cent of Kiwis aged between 15 and 24 were unemployed during the September quarter, prompting calls for the youth wage to be reinstated.

The youth unemployment rate in New Zealand is higher than the OECD average.

Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson told Newstalk ZB the loss of the youth rate had created a disincentive for employers to take on people that weren't prepared for work.

He is calling for more people to make careers in hospitality.

The last Government ditched youth rates and said the minimum wage should apply to all workers from 16 years old.

But Treen said reintroducing the minimum wage wouldn't solve the issue.

"We've had a recession. It looks like we're double dipping again now. What employers have done is retained staff on reduced hours and have not been hiring new staff"

"That's been a noticeable feature and it obviously affects employment rates," he said.

He said the Government should open up additional training opportunities and access to tertiary education in a bid to address the issue.

- NZ Herald Online