JOB CRISIS: Wide Bay among worst employment stats
JOB rates for the region are in dire straits, with almost 20 per cent of young people in the Wide Bay unable to find a job.
But at Coastal Wastewater Specialists, 17-year-old Dylan Winterton is one of the region's young workers who is breaking the cycle of youth unemployment.
It's part of the company's commitment to hiring young workers, having hired five in the last eight years and helping them progress through their apprenticeships towards qualified plumbing work.
Dylan, a first year apprentice straight out of school, said a lot of his friends were still struggling to find work in the region.
"It's just really good to have a pathway into what I want to do," Dylan told the Chronicle.
CWWS administration worker Samantha Prince said the company had a strong policy when it came to retaining staff, saying two of the company's senior plumbers had stayed with them for more than eight years after completing their apprenticeships.
"It's an industry where it's hard to get qualified staff so we get people who are interested in the trade, train them and give them their basic plumbing apprenticeship and add courses to help them on to our field," Ms Prince said.
"We want to retain staff and keep them here so we give a lot of extra training .
"For a small business, it's a big expense to embark on a job search to find the right applicant."
Ms Prince said one of the main ways to address the youth unemployment situation was to support local businesses, allowing people to put money back into hiring more workers.
"Hervey Bay is made up of a lot of small businesses... if people want their kids to have a job, they need to support local businesses," she said.
It comes as a new report reveals the Wide Bay region has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country.
Compiled by anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, the report says Australia's youth unemployment rate is stagnating at levels from the early 2000s despite years of economic growth.
The group's Smashing the Avocado Debate report lists the Wide Bay region's youth unemployment rate at about 19.8 per cent, just under the Grafton region at 23.3 per cent and the Queensland Outback.
Youth unemployment in the Wide Bay region, taking in Bundaberg, Maryborough, Kingaroy, Gympie and Hervey Bay, currently sits second on the list with a youth unemployment rate of 19.8 per cent.
It's a rate about eight per cent above Australia's national youth unemployment rate.
The Queensland Outback region, which includes Cape York, Weipa, Mount Isa, Longreach, topped the list with a rate of 25.7 per cent.
Brotherhood executive director Conny Lenneberg said policy makers needed to give young Australians "a fair go" as they go into work.
"Young people come out of education and training with high hopes and aspirations for independence. It's devastating that despite 28 years of continuous economic growth, too many young Australians are locked out of the prosperity dividend," Mr Lenneberg said.
"These figures belie stereotypes about young people, we know from our research and the experience of our services that many young people are doing it tough."