HARWOOD Marine director Ross Roberts saw the "lost eyes" of youth at a recent employment expo and tried to inspire them to chase success.
He said the boom from Grafton's two pending major construction projects would undoubtedly bring jobs, but young people needed to be innovative to capitalise on the opportunity.
Speaking at a recent employment expo, Mr Roberts encountered hundreds of young faces with looks of desperation.
"They looked lost. You could tell they thought they were never going to get a job," he said.
"I told them to think a little bit bigger. It doesn't have to be ship-building or working on the bridge.
"Find out what you're good at and head in that direction.
"Everything in town will be under-resourced.
"If you love playing guitar, all these new people coming to town are going to need someone to listen to in the bars.
"They're going to be too busy working to clean their houses, so why not start a business blasting their driveways clean?"
That entrepreneurial spirit is what earned Harwood Marine a trophy cabinet full of awards and took it from a fledgling business to a major ship-building and repair operation.
Mr Roberts feared that fighting spirit was all-but lost on Grafton's youth.
He said they should not expect their futures to be handed to them on a gilded platter.
"Get enthusiastic. If you want to work on the bridge
then get your qualifications now," he said.
"Whatever you do, just get yourself moving.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will last about five years. You don't want to miss out."