A BENDIGO employment and training agency is challenging the business community to create 20 new jobs for young people before the end of July.
Sureway Training and Employment area manager Jodie Scoble said youth unemployment in Bendigo was at 13.4 per cent while unemployment in general was at six per cent.
"One thing we are finding in the labour market is that businesses are employing more highly-skilled people which means young people with a limited skill base are missing out," she said.
"People who are unemployed are setting their standards higher making the market much more competitive."
The agency launched a new project, Providing the First Step for Our Youth, at a business breakfast on Wednesday.
Ms Scoble said the project aimed to address youth unemployment in Bendigo.
"Our goal is to assist 20 young people into full time employment by the end of July," Ms Scoble said.
"This is an ambitious goal, but by using traineeships, apprenticeships and wage subsidies we have the ability to make a difference to youth unemployment.
"After all people are our future.
"We are trying to say buy local, keep our youth here, build the foundation and support young people."
Former Australia Rules Footballer Jason McCartney spoke at the business breakfast and said there were many benefits to employing a young person.
"I think it is good to have different age groups in an organisation," he said.
"In this day and age there is lots of new and modern technology.
"It is the young people that know how to use to it.
"I think it is a great opportunity for a business."
Ms Scoble said Sureway had 200 unemployed young people as part of its case load, with youth looking for work in the trade, aged care, health, hospitality, business and retail industries.
She said the agency helped young people create a personal profile that could be given to potential employers.
"They just need the start, they need that opportunity."
For more information, visit www.sureway.com.au