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About 30 people attended a celebration breakfast at HMNZS Toroa in Dunedin yesterday for the Dunedin graduates of the Limited Service Volunteer programme - a six-week Burnham Military Camp programme for unemployed people aged between 17 and 25.
Ministry of Social Development southern regional commissioner John Allen said Dunedin had the largest proportion of unemployed people aged between 18 and 24 in the Southern region.
Ministry data showed 869 people in that age bracket received Job Seeker Support for the quarter ending March 2014.
''And that number is not diminishing. If you just happened to drop in from Mars and reviewed those numbers, you would say the Dunedin community is complacent, or indifferent, to the wellbeing of young people and their future employment,'' Mr Allen said.
He implored employers to hire a young person.
''These young people are part of the community that spends their money on the products that you employers produce and you have profited because they spent that money.
''I want you to consider expansion in your business so you can employ these people.''
Major Ian Lattimore, the officer commanding the youth development unit at Burnham Military Camp, said Winz funded 80% of the programme.
''The Defence Force's job is to protect the vulnerable overseas, but we also assist other agencies to protect the vulnerable back in New Zealand, and young people are vulnerable to long-term unemployment.''
Maj Lattimore said the programme included a 50km mountain hike and participants were subject to military law.
The programme taught graduates to choose ''the hard right, over the easy wrong''.
Programme graduate Hari Wiparata of Dunedin, said after nine years at a boarding school, he was unmotivated to work.
The military programme had changed him and had motivated him to get qualifications and find work.
''I always done the bare minimum but six weeks with the corporals was just brilliant.''
• Dunedin teenager Danielle Newton is pleased and ''really surprised'' with the positive response to an article on her search for a job.
Four employers approached the Otago Daily Times with potential job opportunities after the article, which was published in the Otago Daily Times on Saturday, detailed her eight-month search for a job.
Miss Newton (17) said she was hopeful of finding a job after the positive response to the article.
''It was pretty good,'' she said.
''I wasn't expecting it. I'm really thankful for getting the chance.''
She would contact prospective employers today, she said.