New traineeships aim to help young people find work
A new project will offer 16 to 24-year-olds in England work experience and training to help them get a first job.
Employers such as HSBC, BT, General Motors and Virgin Media are hoping to run youth traineeships under the government's scheme.
The initiative will offer help in writing a CV, interview practice, work placements of up to five months and training in English and maths.
It follows complaints from business leaders about poor skills levels.
The scheme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Association of Colleges said it hoped the traineeship scheme would reduce youth unemployment.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday show 959,000 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK were unemployed in the three months to May - a jobless rate of 20.9%.
'Route to employment'
The new traineeships will be available from August. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "Young people in Britain deserve the chance to work and get on in life which is why we're introducing traineeships to help them get on the first rung of the ladder.
"Employers value real experience which is why I'm delighted that more than 100 businesses have come forward. I now want to urge more employers - no matter what size - to sign up to the programme and make the most of the talents of our young people."
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "We have been arguing for a number of years for an effective pre-apprenticeship programme that helps young people become competitive for a sought-after apprenticeship place with an employer.
"With the right content and conditions, traineeships could provide such a programme and contribute to reducing the number of young people not in employment, education or training (Neet)."
Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Traineeships can provide a reliable route to employment for those motivated to work, but who currently lack the necessary skills and experience.
"This framework should give employers the confidence to recruit young people and to create more apprenticeship opportunities.
"Unfortunately many employers struggle to find quality candidates to fill their apprenticeships.
"The combination of literacy, numeracy, and real work experience in the framework will help to bridge this gap and enable many more motivated young people to meet employers' standards."