TACKLING high rates of youth unemployment could mean ramping up efforts to give youngsters insights into work and the value of school, Bendigo's mayor says.
Youth unemployment has emerged as a key concern as the council formulates an economic strategy for the next 10 years.
The Bendigo region had the fifth highest youth jobless rate in Australia, a recent Brotherhood of St Laurence report found.
Those figures came even as the wider unemployment rate sat under five per cent, City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke said.
"That's where we are saying we have to be careful that people are not left behind," she said.
"We think it's about businesses engaging more with young people."
Cr O'Rourke noted the success of the Passions and Pathways program.
That program started organising work experience for grade five and six students from families with a history of disadvantage nearly a decade ago. Some people involved in the program did not have working family members, Cr O'Rourke said.
"They just interviewed some of the students who took part right at the beginning. They are coming to the end of year 12 and they believe Passions and Pathways was a turning point," she said.
"So I think there is a number of ways we can look at how that (the youth unemployment rate) can be improved, but it is around people getting to see what the long term outcome is."
Regional students were still twice as likely to leave school without finishing year 12 than those in metropolitan areas, though that gap had narrowed, according to a Regional Australia Institute report released on Thursday.
The report examined how regional areas could take advantage of growing service industries at a time when technology was replacing low and higher skilled workers.
Big shifts were on the way, the report found, with the number of new jobs in agriculture declining and those in healthcare and social assistance would rise.
Regions would also need to intensify competition to attract the people they need to grow, with signs in many areas that skills shortages were re-emerging, the RAI report stated.
"While it is a common perception that there are few job opportunities in regions, and most of the jobs that are available are low skilled, the reality in late 2018 is very different," it said.
"Internet vacancies have been growing faster in regional Australia compared to capital cities since 2017, and in January 2019 there were some 42,000 vacancies outside the mainland state capitals, across a range of occupation and skill levels."
Skills shortages in the Loddon Mallee region continued, Bendigo Manufacturing Group chair Mark Brennan said.
His group was helping form plans to entice highly skilled workers to the area. They where expected to be completed by May.
The council expected to release an economic strategy progress report in mid-May and would include ideas about skills and jobs for Bendigo's future.
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