The question of 'Where do you want to go in life?' is a daunting one, faced by all young people as they approach adulthood.
Couper Smith, now 18, had his answer - but felt school wasn't a part of it.
"I was in year 11 last year and I was trying to get out of school, as it wasn't really my thing," he said.
"I liked metal work and wanted to do boiler-making.
"There was an advertisement in the newspaper for an apprenticeship and I applied for it, and it kicked on from there."
The notice from Apprentices Trainees Employment Limited at Wodonga led to two interviews - one with a trainer and one with the Joss Group, who were to host Couper over three years.
"I started at Joss in October and I've been really enjoying it," he said.
"I liked the 7-to-4 work day and using my hands."
Young job-seekers like Couper make up the majority of people ATEL mentor Jayne Haddrick works with.
"It's interesting with Couper, because he talks about why he left school, but he's doing incredibly well with his studies at Wodonga TAFE," she said.
"I think that shows it's not necessarily sometimes whether you like school or not, it's whether you are doing what you enjoy.
"I agree with him in that university is not for everyone, and you can still have a very successful career without it."
Schools place too much importance on obtaining university-level qualifications, youth commented at forums guiding Wodonga Council's draft Youth Strategy.
And while 90 per cent will finish high school - up from 84 per cent in 2014 - "many fail to find employment".
Just over 10 per cent of youth are unemployed in Wodonga, which compares to 17.2 per cent in 2016 for the wider Hume and Murray region.
On top of there being less full-time employment opportunities for school leavers, the council's strategy raised that "entry level jobs they want to apply for require a certain amount of experience, which can be very difficult if they haven't had a job before".
It can be hard for teenagers to see security in their future when research indicates that 60 per cent of the jobs they are currently training for are unlikely to exist in 10 to 15 years.
But ATEL chief executive Kellie Howard said 10 years was a long time in anyone's career.
"Employers still have a demand for these jobs," she said.
"What we need to teach our children is to be adaptable to change, be willing to take on opportunities and be resilient.
"The great advantage to an apprenticeship or traineeship is that you are able to gain invaluable, on-the-job experience, and transferable skills that can be evolved into new occupations."
Youth industry professionals have told Wodonga Council that there has been a "steep decline in soft skills with the integration and use of technology", with the specific skills falling short including navigating the rental market, handling of finances and managing intimate relationships.
This means that regardless of school results, many young people "lack the skills necessary to gain employment and live independently".
Ms Howard agreed that there had been a decrease in soft skills in Wodonga's youth.
"However as parents, careers advisers, teachers and employers, I think we need to encourage, mentor and provide assistance gaining these skills, and also recognise that we too need to adapt too," she said.
And today's digital world is not only hurting employment prospects for the community's next generation.
Wodonga deputy mayor Kat Bennett said the students who spoke at planning sessions for the strategy had identified the other impacts on their own accord.
"Young people aren't spending as much time face-to-face and they have identified that it is hindering them," she said.
"I knew things like mental health would definitely come up, but I wasn't expecting to hear so much about social connection and family time.
"With such busy work lives that parents and carers have, their kids are missing family time and feeling lonely.
"Seventy per cent (of youth) have a trusted adult in their life, which means 30 per cent don't.
"When we have statistics like that, where young adults don't have a trusted person in their life, council does really need to be playing a role."
The draft youth strategy proposes that council identify future need for youth services, annually analyse data on well-being, deliver workshops to build life skills and partner with other organisations to strengthen youth networks for those who are marginalised.
It's hoped social connection will be supported by exploring the possibilities of youth spaces - like Albury's Retro Lane Youth Cafe.
"There's definitely merit in having a designated space," Cr Bennett said.
"Young people make up 20 per cent of our population and sometimes when I sit around the council chamber, I think 'These decisions are affecting young people the most', and we don't quite have their experience.
"It should be at the forefront of every single decision we make, whether it be a park, or shopping centre, or the main street.
"This is a massive age group in Wodonga, and they're the ones who will be living with the decisions we make.
"There were actually some people who have said 'I don't think we need a youth strategy', which is just crazy."
The document is much more comprehensive than the 2014-2017 plan, which also outlined the need for a 'youth hub' or similar space.
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Then, 11 per cent of young people in Wodonga were unemployed.
Cr Bennett said it was disappointing no major progress had been made in the youth unemployment rate.
"The changing job market is really hard," she said.
"I know young people are finding it really difficult to get full time work if they want that - there's so much casual work," she said.
"Setting them up them up with life skills and playing more of a role in that - which we haven't done before - will be really important."
Planning for jobs of the future are a key focus for providers like ATEL, but for Ms Haddrick core values underpin success for her mentees.
"Couper is someone who did that hard work to look for jobs," she said.
"Unpaid work experience is still a great thing to have, and sometimes it can be getting that first break.
"I remember when Couper first came on board, and his confidence levels have soared."
Couper encouraged his peers to work hard and be persistent.
"Some people think they can finish school and an apprenticeship pops up out of nowhere," he said.
"If you want to get a job, start at the bottom and just apply."
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