Young job seekers have been hit hard by Covid-19, with a rise of more than 80 per cent in the number of 18-24-year-olds on the Job Seeker Allowance.
Recent data from the Ministry of Social Development shows the number of 18-19-year-olds on the Job Seeker Work Ready allowance went from 5970 in August 2019 to 11,105 in August 2020. That's an increase of 5135 young people on the benefit - or a rise of 86 per cent.
The number of 20-24-year-olds on the same allowance went from 14,220 in August 2019 to 26,268 in August 2020. That's 12,048 more people on the allowance or an increase of 84 per cent.
In comparison, people seeking Job Seeker assistance in the 40-44-year-old age group went from 6774 in August 2019 to 9949 in August 2020 - an increase of just more than 46 per cent.
To get Jobseeker support, young people needed to be either unemployed and looking for work or in part-time employment and seeking more work.
Massey 22-year-old Faytarina Tepulolo was not surprised at the rise in those needing support and said Covid had put a huge amount of pressure on her job-seeking peers.
The young mum has three children under the age of 3 and was struggling to find a job to work in with the demands of her young family.
"Knowing what you want to do and finding your first job is hard enough but I know Covid has made that even harder," Tepulolo said.
"I know people my age who have applied for work all year and haven't found anything."
Tepulolo heard about a course at The Mind Lab in Auckland called HeyFuture! through a family member and said it led to a great job and two other offers.
The course has been specifically designed for 18-22-year-olds who were unsure of what career path to take and lacked confidence.
Frances Valintine from The Mind Lab said 18-22-year-olds were hit particularly hard because of Covid-19 and needed all the support available as they started looking for employment.
As well as being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the group was also in the older cohort of Generation Z and had additional challenges.
The older members of Gen Z grew up with the internet but still mainly used physical workbooks at school.
"What we realised is this group has had the internet all of their lives but they didn't have laptops throughout school," she said.
"In a weird way, they have been caught in the generation between the analogue world and the digital world."
The course gave job seekers a better chance of securing work through teaching practical skills in platforms such as Slack and Trello. It also helped students find their personal purpose and gain inside knowledge to kick start their journey.
Topics covered in The Mind Lab course include sustainability, collaboration, creativity and curiosity, problem-solving, digital impact, leadership, entrepreneurship and confidence.
Valintine said it gave young job seekers the confidence and contacts to increase their employment success.
Tepulolo said one of the challenges for young job seekers was a lack of self-belief and employers writing them off because of a lack of experience.
"The HeyFuture! course gave me the confidence and also taught me I didn't have to be locked into one career, to be more open-minded about what I could do."
Tepulolo secured paid employment when she was on the course after approaching one of the speakers and asking if she could job-shadow him.
"I volunteered for work for free but I was offered a paid job that works in with daycare hours," Tepulolo said.
Tepulolo starts her new job at digital advertising company 36 Presents next week. She is able to work from home when her children are at daycare.
Tepulolo hoped other 18-24-year-olds were able to find employment.
"I know how hard it is because for our age group we have nothing to put on our CV, we feel we have nothing to offer.
"I would say for people looking for work not to discount anything or feel you can't do it just because it wasn't what you were looking for."