Bendigo Tech School director Graeme Wiggins said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on jobs for young people is unknown, as a recently published report reveals young people will suffer lower wages and shakier job security throughout their careers.
"It is concerning because we know some of the biggest employment opportunities for young people are in the most disrupted employment sectors," Mr Wiggins said.
The Australian Productivity Commission's Climbing the jobs ladder report investigated the impacts on the labour market for young people between 2008 and 2018.
Following the Global Financial Crisis, the report found young people had more difficulty getting jobs in occupations they aspired to and it was harder to climb the occupation ladder.
Data from the Goldfields Local Learning and Employment Network reveals that three industry areas provide 55 per cent of all employment for people aged 15 to 24 years in Bendigo.
Food and beverage services make up 28 per cent, with food retail (14 per cent) and other store-based retail (13 per cent) the industries that employ the most young people.
These jobs are generally low-skilled and low-paid and Mr Wiggins said a key to employability is completing Year 12 or higher education.
"Young people should stay in school as long as they possibly can," he said.
"Increasingly, young people are gaining valuable work experience by volunteering and doing internships, but many have to still manage their expectations when they are starting out to get insight into their career pathways."
The City of Greater Bendigo's Economic Development Strategy 2020-2030 reveals the region has one of the highest rates of employment growth in regional Australia, but also one of the highest youth unemployment rates, peaking at 18.3 per cent in 2018.
Mr Wiggins said educational institutions, such as the Bendigo Tech School, are tasked with thinking creatively about tailoring training and educational opportunities post COVID-19.
"Tech Schools empower students with future work skills centered on critical and creative thinking, innovation, problem solving, teamwork and entrepreneurship," he said.
The report's authors expect to see young graduates start and finish their careers lower on the jobs ladder, which was a pattern that emerged out of the global financial crisis.
It gave the example of law graduates during the GFC, many of whom ended up working in cafes, low-ranking paralegal jobs, or dropping out of the legal profession entirely.