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Some participants were concerned that many young people were dropping out of school too early and without appropriate skills, so that they could earn money for themselves or to assist their whānau:

"I have some that are working, you know, have left school to help mum and dad pay the bills. It's getting worse. There's more and more. They're dropping out of school, not understanding the basics before they come into work. So it's a lot of education between, they don't know how to get their IRD number, they don't have their own bank account. Don't know how to read an employment agreement. I could rip them off completely and they would have absolutely no idea if I was a shitty employer."
"It is quite common. You can look at the roll at the school, like what's actually on paper. But you go there on any given day and you can guarantee that 30-40% of the roll, especially at that senior school, wouldn't attend. A lot of them work but say they're still at school. You know, like a lot of them are in the planting industry and in the sheds as well. They're making $300 dollars a day and enjoying the lavish lifestyle of going online and shopping, but they're not actually aware of the bigger situation. The education has dropped big time. They don't know the foundations of setting themselves up in life. "

Attracting professionals to Taumarunui to work, including the already mentioned doctors and teachers, as well as keeping them in the area was considered a key employment challenge:

"A lot of people aren't attracted to Taumarunui. Who would want to come to Taumarunui? You go past that place. That's a lot of the kōrero that I’ve heard from out of town. Why would I want to stay in Taumarunui?"

Some participants considered that good quality jobs were available in the area, as were good employers:

"I started off as (redacted), went into a trainer, then manager, assistant manager, now I’m an operations manager. The whole way through, I had three kids and I bought a house. So it's just, it all depends on the person really. I've got a management team of nine, and seven of them were high school dropouts. And then we offer them to do level three credits to finish their schooling off."
"A lot of people do say there's no employment, but it's probably getting to the point for some of the younger ones that like, wanting to work, and realising that it's not easy. Like they're concerned about image, like, "I'm not working at New World," but really, my daughter works there eight hours a week. And I said to her if you want this, this and this, you can buy it yourself."
"There's always people to do the work of planting, shearing. It's continuous, then when they finish here they go down to the South Island. They're moving around."
"I've had lots of jobs. I'm a job hopper. I think it's quite easy to get a job."
"But you have to be willing to work!"
"And told what to do!"
"It's difficult with the younger ones. They want to be at the top, ha ha ha! Start at the top!"

Whereas forestry was considered a key employer, others noted that they tended to employ workers from out of the area, and that the work was only seasonally available:

"A lot of the crews are coming in from Tokoroa, they’re coming from out of town, and they're renting homes out in the areas. Um, I know of three crews that are from Tokoroa that are renting a six-bedroom house."
"Then they go from planting to pruning, which you don't get as many workers but pruning is ten times harder than planting. It is hard work, it's not easy money. I know a guy and he makes good money, but he works like a work horse. Again, though, it's seasonal so if you broke that down over 12 months, you know, it's not a huge income but at the time it's a lot in one hit."

Whereas in 2020 tourism was seen as increasingly important growth area and was showing year-round opportunities for employment, this was not spoken about in its potential to offer employment as much in 2023, but rather in it’s contribution to extant business. Tourism was seen as constricted by a lack of tourist accommodation.

"A lot of cyclists come through, we've got the timber trail through to Ongarue, which is 20km out of town which benefits Taumarunui. They bring the numbers in, accommodation food, grocery shopping, local business, and I've got to say the walkers as well doing the Te Araroa Trail, and they're amazing because they're actually walking from Hamilton through to here, to Waiouru. It is a huge business and we as businesses, and little businesses, we are actually making money off them."
"You've got the canoes going down the river. Forgotten World is doing well with their business, hit the ground running quite quickly (after COVID). "
"The biggest problem for our tourism is our accommodation. Not many tourists here because we don't have the accommodation. Hotel accommodation. There’s a lack of space to build it, and the consents. I don’t understand the building consents, you think they’d be moving really quickly to get that going. And there’s a lack of builders. The red tape’s there."

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