New Zealand’s school leaving rate is lower than it's ever been before, with fewer under 18-year-olds quitting secondary education last year since records began 14 years ago.
Around 7000 fewer teens dropped out in 2020 compared to the year before.
An education ministry report suggests Covid-19 and the economic situation it has caused is encouraging students to remain in school.
There's also been an increase in the number of New Zealanders entering tertiary education.
Figures show almost 110,000 domestic enrolments this year, up 9 per cent when compared to last year.
But the pandemic has seen some teenagers forced to make the life-changing decision to leave education.
Negative impacts still felt
Makayla Eli, a talented rugby player, had plans to become a PE teacher but had to leave university after just one semester to support her family.
"My mum lost her job because she works in tourism, and I knew that would be a part of my family’s income that wouldn’t be coming in," she said.
She said she felt like she should "give uni a rest", and she’s found she’s not the only one.
"I know so many around South Auckland, a lot of kids parents’ have lost their jobs and instead of their parent finding another job, it’s the kids feeling like they now have to step up and help out at home."
Psychologist Linde-Marie Amersfoort is seeing increased anxiety and frustration among young people.
"They’re very fragile because they're the age group that is subject to changing context and circumstance," she said.
Her daughter is among the among those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, forced to return from an OE she'd spent months saving for.
"She, like many of our year 13s, ended up having a low-paying part-time job to tide her over," Amersfoort said.
"It is tricky because the circumstances mean that many of our school leavers and young adults have to stay in those longer-term or part-time jobs for longer without actually being able to do what they need to do."
First Union says rangitahi are taking any job they can to make ends meet.
"The jobs that are available aren’t that great, they're poorly paid and far too often they're casual with no job security, no guaranteed hours,” young workers advocate Tony Stevens said.
Amersfoort urges young adults to ask for help if they are experiencing difficulties.
"That is so important. If you are in that low-paying job that you feel really stuck in, and you're really struggling and your boss isn't supportive, reach out and ask for help," she said.
"If you don't feel like you can do that find another trusted adult, mentor or friend."