A "WHOLE systems approach" is the key to helping young people remain engaged with education, training and work, says a learning and employment chief executive.
Goldfields Local Learning and Employment Network CEO Anne Brosnan said organisations needed to work in a coordinated fashion but were reliant on resources.
The comments come after a government document obtained by The Age showed more than 10,000 students in years 9 to 11 disengage from the education and training systems every year.
A further 6000 drop out within 12 months of transferring to the vocational education and training system.
The education department calculated the figures using the Victorian Student Number identification numbers issued to students to track how many children of compulsory school age are disappearing from the education and training system.
The identification number data does not include students from independent or Catholic schools, and relates only to Victoria.
Ms Brosnan told a federal parliamentary committee on the role of TAFEs that an analysis of the identification numbers showed 240 Bendigo students were not in schools, TAFEs or registered training organisations in May 2012.
"The VSN can give us an accurate number, she said.
"If there are 240 people in Bendigo not in schools - I think that is a significant number. It is a major issue."
She said the number of young people disengaging was a significant issue and needed to be addressed from an early age.
"During grade 3 if you are a little person who is not up to the benchmark for reading, writing and numeracy on NAPLAN it is almost impossible to catch up," she said.
"The preschool teachers would say, when a child goes to prep based on their oral language, that they could likely predict the young people who may struggle to attain year 12."
She said adequate resources were a major part of engaging young people and that was the challenge.
"It has to be well resourced," she said.
"Organisations in Bendigo are working in a coordinated manner to support young people however additional resources are required to engage those hard to reach learners.
"They are entitled to the support they need to become a productive adult citizens."