"GIVE us a go".
That was the simple, but heartfelt message delivered by 18-year-old Griffith job seeker Jenna Hams during a special breakfast held at the Ex-Servicemen's Club yesterday.
The business breakfast, which attracted more than 50 people, was organised by Sureway Employment and Training to highlight the problem of youth unemployment in the city and featured an address by guest of honour rugby league legend, Wayne Pearce.
Miss Hams, who is looking for administration or retail work, said all she wanted was to be given a chance.
"The difficulty I have found in finding a job here is that they want us to have experience, but how can you get experience without someone taking a chance," she said.
"As a job seeker you do get sick of being rejected and not being called back.
"It affects your self-esteem and you start to wonder what is wrong with you, what am I not doing right.
"Mr Pearce was really good to listen to and his message about not giving up was inspiring."
With a staggering one in three people aged between 15 and 24 living in Griffith unemployed, Mr Pearce highlighted the important role business leaders play in the community.
He is one of Australia's most respected and highest profile rugby league identities and represented and captained the Balmain Tigers, NSW and Australia from 1980 to 1990.
"Business leaders have a responsibility to provide opportunities for young people, who are willing and able to contribute to society," he said.
"We need to encourage these young people otherwise they will learn to feel helpless rather than empowered. We just need to give them a sense of belief so they can achieve."
The project is called "Providing the First Step for Our Youth" and Sureway's regional manager, Craig Tilston, said he hoped the breakfast would encourage businesses to help young people take that first step.
"It would be nice to see between 15 to 20 young people in Griffith in the next couple of months ideally in sustainable employment," he said.
"Youth unemployment in the ages of 17 to 24 is at 8.9 per cent, which is a little bit higher than the national average.
"I'd say one in three are either unemployed or underemployed.
"Let's see if we can rise to the challenge and give some of these young people a go."