Jessica Storey, Auckland University Students Association education vice-president.
Auckland University is a strong hub which attracts a diverse range of students, she says. However, mounting costs may mean some prospective students lose out.
"The student allowance schemes we have are not robust enough for the lower socio-economic group to access education," she said. "With the student loan scheme [allowing] $175.96 a week maximum borrowing for living costs, no one can live in Auckland.
"I think the university is a strong hub and it is great to have it in Auckland but it loses diversity and interest if they lock out people who can't afford it.
"To have a liveable city means to be liveable to everybody."
Flora Apulu, 23, mentoring services manager Genesis Youth Trust chair of Auckland Council youth advisory panel.
Youth unemployment must be addressed, Ms Apulu says.
"I know a lot of young people looking for work and they are at an age they should work, but no one is willing to take on young people because they think they are too much of a risk.
"I want to push them to aspire to more than just staying on a benefit, instead to get that reward of earning something. When they do, their confidence gets better because they know it's right."
Katie Wolf, 36 (top). Moved to Auckland from Atlanta, Georgia in the US in December 2011.
Mrs Wolf, who has a Masters in Counselling, searched for a job for six months.
"It was quite hard to get a job. I thought that it would be easier because of my background."
When she and her husband found out she was pregnant with the couple's first child, Hazel, now 2, Mrs Wolf stopped job hunting. She recommended that those looking for work, as well as students, network and make connections as early as possible in their chosen industries.
Hazel Cocker, 23. Moved to Auckland from Shropshire, England, in June 2013.
Ms Cocker, who is a support worker for disabled adults, is currently in New Zealand on a working holiday visa. She is due to leave in March and plans to return to Auckland to live with her boyfriend after a stint abroad, including a stop in England to see her family.
Ms Cocker believed the time limit on her visa had made it difficult to find work.
"I wasn't applying for anything fantastic, I was just applying for something to tide me over, it was going to give me enough money to pay my rent," she said.
"I've always worked since I was 17, I've had lots of different jobs, I've got a decent degree and plenty of experience in lots of things I was applying for, but I don't even know if they were reading my application."
While she was applying for jobs directly, some friends from overseas had better luck through agencies.
Five great things
Auckland's labour force is more ethnically diverse than anywhere in New Zealand. Statistics New Zealand's labour market analysis in 2011 showed the proportion of Aucklanders in the labour force who were European - while still the majority - was much smaller than the rest of New Zealand, with higher numbers of Asian and Pacific people in the labour force.
2 Auckland's labour force is younger than the rest of New Zealand's. Nearly two-thirds are aged between 15 and 44, while just over half of people are in this age bracket for the rest of NZ.
3 Auckland's appealing lifestyle attracts workers and students from around the world. In the year to November 30, at least two in five permanent and long-term arrivals settled in Auckland, data showed.
Auckland's best graduates are well-placed to compete in the international market, says University of Auckland vice-chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon, below.
5 High business confidence and a growing economy has led to job opportunities. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce Economic Business Survey, performed in November, found 58 per cent of those surveyed believed business would pick up in the next six months, while 24 per cent expected employee numbers to be up.
The high number of young people failing in the education system, hindering their development and job prospects later in life. About 24 per cent of students moving into high school were below or well below reading standards and about 32 per cent were not at expected reading or writing numeracy levels, Comet Auckland identified in its 2013/14 annual report.
2 The large number of Aucklanders aged 15 to 24 not involved in education, employment or training. At the end of September, 24,200 Aucklanders fell into this category, figures from Statistics New Zealand showed. For Maori and Pacific Islanders, the rates are worse.
Figures from the Auckland Council show one in every six Pacific youths (17.2 per cent), and even more Maori youths (18.5 per cent), are at home or roaming the streets with no employment.
3 The lack of investment in fundamental research which will create the "sorts of new ideas that are game-changers for economies", says Professor McCutcheon.
4 Skills shortages in industries like health and medical, information and communications technology and electronics, says the Committee for Auckland.
5 Auckland's transport woes. Education experts, workers, students and employment leaders cite heavy congestion and poor public transport as a real threat to Auckland's development. It is a problem for both current residents and impacts on our liveable city image - which is a major drawcard for overseas students and workers.
Twenty five solutions: It starts at school and in the home
1 A more sophisticated analysis
and understanding of why significant numbers of young people in the compulsory education sector are not achieving to their potential, Professor McCutcheon says.
2 Move away from characterising groups of people as if they were all uniformly failing and understand what is really going on with these kids and how they are disadvantaged in their education, says Professor McCutcheon.
3 Stronger expectations for the commitment that all of us will have to supporting young people. It is unrealistic to send kids to school and expect everything will be taken care of, Professor McCutcheon says.
"This city needs to have a stronger focus from its leaders about the importance of education and the need for all members of our society, starting with parents and family, to be involved in supporting the education of our young people so they do succeed to the greatest extent possible."
4 Help families and early childhood education providers produce "school ready" learners who have good oral skills and are ready to engage with formal education, says Russell Burt, convenor of the Manaiakalani schools cluster. Manaiakalani is an education programme run in 12 mostly decile 1 schools in Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure. It has changed learning for many students and achieved significant improvements.
5 Resource the education community so family can be genuine partners in the education process, Mr Burt says.
6 Enlist more Maori and Pacific students to "lift the bar" and take subjects that are more academically demanding so they have more vocational pathways, says Salvatore Gargiulo, principal of Manurewa High, New Zealand's largest multicultural school.
7 Get better at what we're doing well
Early childhood centres and schools who teach those same students should work together to make plans about the transition between levels, says Professor Stuart McNaughton, New Zealand's first Chief Education Scientific Advisor, of the University of Auckland School of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education and director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre. It makes a big difference to learning if children are already familiar with numeracy and literacy principles when they begin primary school.
"Teachers need to be teaching in early childhood centres specifically to help kids develop the skills that will enable them to make the transition [to school] well."
While co-ordination and planning was already occurring between some early childhood centres and schools, it needed to happen everywhere.
"What kids really need to learn is the idea of how numbers work. How you can have large groups of numbers and small groups of numbers. They need to know that if you take some numbers away from other numbers you get a smaller amount.
"Using games in which number concepts are used, like in money play or board games, internet-based games or exercises. But the point is that the kids need to be developing concepts not just little facts."
A focus on this by year one teachers and early childhood educators could help mitigate the literacy and numeracy problems which hindered the progress of many students at school and then later in life.
It would also mean student learning could be better managed as they progressed through the education system.
"[It's] using that information in a way that enables the primary teacher to teach specifically to the needs of each child as they come into the primary school, but on the other side, early childhood teachers are preparing kids with the concepts of numeracy and literacy that they need."
8 Have more mentors from different industries for students from low socio-economic homes, says Mr Gargiulo.
9 Have better sharing practices between schools of successful teaching methods, Professor McNaughton says.
10 Shift the public-service goal focus from access to learning to how effective learning techniques are, particularly for literacy and numeracy concepts, says Professor McNaughton.
11 Do more research into specialist teaching in maths and science at primary schools, Professor McNaughton says.
12 Undertake workforce planning at industry and regional levels to foresee skills shortages, says the Committee for Auckland.
13 Invest more money into productivity-enhancing technologies.
"Give everyone who's working more sophisticated tools to work with," Kim Campbell of the Employers and the Manufacturers Association (EMA) says.
14 Upskill the labour force. Having more sophisticated tools "requires smarter people to run [them], more highly skilled people to make [them] work," Mr Campbell says.
15 Establish feedback mechanisms so employers can communicate what educators are doing well and where improvement is needed, says the Committee for Auckland.
16 New employees need a better understanding of the workplace and this can be achieved through working with business organisations - understanding what is expected, business expectations and norms, says Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett.
17 Make driving licence courses and examinations part of the school curriculum. "The 90,000+ unlicensed youth drivers in New Zealand is a critical issue. We need game-changing thinking around driving licences which should in our opinion be a compulsory school output," Mr Barnett says.
18 Make young people more employable.
Entering the workforce is never easy, and education experts and businesses believe there are a variety of ways to help students.
Auckland University Professor Stuart McNaughton has emphasised how important it is to incorporate social and non-cognitive skills into the learning curriculum.
Non-cognitive skills include the ability to lead and participate in a team, empathise with other people and adapt to change.
Research from the Committee for Auckland, a lobby group whose members include business leaders, shows most employers struggle to find workers with strong non-cognitive skills as well as technical expertise.
"The social skills in particular, to do with self-regulation, being able to monitor yourself and make good judgments, they're to do with empathy and thinking about other people's needs," Professor McNaughton says.
"This is important for work later on and it's really important in a digital environment where you have the risk of things like bullying. Kids need to be able to collaborate because the digital environment provides huge opportunities for kids working collectively, which as it happens is something significant for later employment."
The EMA also stresses the importance of these skills in the workplace.
"An employer wants to know that if you take someone on, you don't have to spend the first three months showing them that the place starts at eight," Kim Campbell says.
"You have to be there until five, you don't just wag off, you can't just be rude to your superiors, you get on with people around you. You can't swear at people, you take your breaks when you're asked to and you clean up your workplace, you don't make a mess."
19 Encourage more students and employers to participate in work experience programmes, Mr Campbell says.
20 Restore workers' rights so wages are set fairly. the Council of Trade Unions says.
21 Have "proactive conversations" with baby-boomer workers to front-foot skills shortages as they retire, says Roman Rogers, executive general manager for recruiting agency Hudson New Zealand.
Flexible working arrangements and graduated retirement options should be considered.
22 As work-life balance and flexible working arrangements become more popular, businesses should consider how they can cater to their workers' needs without affecting productivity, Mr Rogers says.
Research and innovation
23 Invest more into fundamental research which has the potential to produce new technologies and jobs.
"We still have an economy that relies fundamentally on exporting agricultural products," says Auckland University's vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon.
"If you look at the things which have changed international economies, particularly in smaller countries - Singapore, South Korea - many of those industries arise not from tinkering with existing industries but from undertaking ... fundamental research that eventually leads to some completely new commercial application and in this country."
Research is also an important factor in keeping and attracting talented students, Professor McCutcheon says.
"At the moment, [students are] motivated to go overseas, often by both the thrill of international travel but also by the job opportunities that exist overseas.
"Increasingly, I think they'll be motivated by the ability to access more highly ranked and therefore - at least by inference - better universities in other countries," he says.
Most liveable city
24 Make it easier to live in the city.
"People have trouble getting to work. The overall cost of being here is high, so if you're recruiting from outside of Auckland, it's quite hard," says Kim Campbell of the EMA.
Auckland University Students' Association president Paul Smith says the high cost of living in Auckland makes it less attractive as a study destination.
25 Build a better public transport network making it easier for people to get around Auckland, education experts, businesses and students say.
Thursday Health and wellbeing
Friday Recreation and leisure