The government has launched a fresh push to get young people on to work-experience placements.
Thirty companies, including Marks and Spencer, are creating opportunities for youngsters to spend time at work, with more expected to follow.
But critics say the scheme does not make up for the the previous coalition government's removal of mandatory work experience from the school curriculum .
It also comes as new figures show a slight rise in youth unemployment.
Employment Minister Priti Patel said: "Young people tell me they can't get a job without work experience, but they can't get work experience without a job.
"That is why we are launching the campaign to give young people practical advice about making the most of their summer holidays - and beyond - to gain valuable business skills."
Young people taking part are being encouraged to post "selfies" from their workplace and share their experiences using the #WECan hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by visiting the scheme's website.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Axing compulsory work experience under the last government was a mistake, robbing thousands of young people of the chance to gain valuable skills.
"Young people want to work and contribute to the country's economy, and work placements can make the difference between them getting a job or not.
"This new programme is well meaning - but to benefit all young people, we need a statutory obligation on all schools to provide work experience."
Office for National Statistics figures for April to June show an increase of 25,000 in the overall unemployment rate to 1.85 million.
The percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds in employment was 73.4%, up from 72.8% the same time last year but down marginally on the previous three-month period.
Ministers stress youth unemployment remains lower than under the last Labour government.
Labour employment spokesman Stephen Timms said: "The rise in youth unemployment highlights a real danger that young people are being left behind.
"Ministers must urgently deliver more high-quality apprenticeships to give young people the skills they need to get a job and build a future."