ALTHOUGH agencies have pointed to a shortage of available apprenticeships within the Illawarra, employers have urged job-seekers and school leavers to properly prepare for their new position.
The Foundation for Young Australians' 2012 How Young People are Faring report found that the number of Australian teens in full-time work (198,000) was down 26 per cent in 2012, compared with 270,000 employed in 2008.
Mission Australia Employment Solutions' business and recruitment consultant for the Illawarra region, Aaron Monkley, believed the area was a "little bit lacking" in apprenticeship opportunities.
"A big portion is related to the Australian dollar and reaction to the BlueScope redundancies," he said. "Many businesses are not taking chances on hiring apprentices."
Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre general manager Andrew Williams reported that the national completion rates for some apprenticeships were as low as 45 per cent.
"With the majority of businesses in the Illawarra being small and medium enterprises, more support is needed to turn this figure around," he said.
According to IRIS Research, as of November 2012 the annual average youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate in the Wollongong Statistical District (Shellharbour, Wollongong and Kiama LGAs) was 12.2 per cent.
Mr Monkley said there were many reasons why young people did not finish apprenticeships.
"They get the apprenticeship, work a couple of days and decide it isn't for them," he said.
"Another factor is [because of] media and social networks, we find young people today a bit lacking in communication skills.
"If they're having concerns about the job they're doing, they'll just tend to disappear."
Kara Ryan, owner of Empyre Hair Studio in Shellharbour Village, has employed five apprentices and agreed that young people needed to better prepare for their prospective role's specific requirements.
"Young people jump into it because they're told to do an apprenticeship, or can't leave school without one," she said.
"They quickly pick a trade, without a lot of research and guidance."
Emma Ryles, 22, a senior stylist at Empyre, said seeing friends earning more money doing other apprenticeships could prove difficult for young hairdressers, as would being on their feet all day. "You've just got to stick it out; every job has those problems," she said.
Jayme-Lee Schodel, 18, recently began the second year of her apprenticeship at the salon.
"I did a lot of casual work, about two years, before getting an apprenticeship, then decided it was definitely what I wanted to do," she said.
Ricky Cochran is a 17-year-old job-seeker from Warrawong.
He left school in Year 10 and has undertaken several TAFE courses, as well as casual work, aiming to land a building apprenticeship.
"I don't have a high education, so it's [difficult to] get employers interested," he said.
"I don't have my drivers' license, which makes it hard."